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Know the West

Sharing a clouded past

  Thousands of people exposed to radiation from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington during decades of Cold War experiments have had health problems and wondered: "Am I the only one?" Now they will have a chance to share their experiences, says Bea Kelleigh, of the Hanford Health Information Network. Formed by Congress in 1991, the network will open new archives at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., July 24. Downwinders began donating medical records, photographs, letters, diaries, books and tapes last December. "If we don't collect this information now, it may be lost forever," says archivist Pennington Ahlstrand, whose grandfather and great-grandfather worked at Hanford. Ahlstrand says the project may help future studies on the health effects of radiation exposure, but it is not meant to be a scientific study. "The archives allows Hanford downwinders to feel less alone with illness, suffering and death of loved ones," says network member Tricia Pritikin. For more information, contact the Hanford Health Information Archives, Foley Center Library, Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA 99258-0095, call 800/799-4442, or find the archives on the World Wide Web: http://www.foley.gonzaga.edu/hhiahome.html.