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The Battle

Gail Balser and her battle with Texas Instruments

Former Metals & Controls Corp Workers in Attleboro, MA Battle Cancer

In the late 1950s, most of the young men and women who agreed to take jobs manufacturing nuclear reactor fuel components at Metals & Controls Corp in Attleboro were just starting careers and families.  Few apparently gave any thought to the dangers of working with or around enriched uranium and other radioactive materials.  Most workers at Metals & Controls that later became part of Texas Instruments never considered their job a potential threat to their health.  Gail Balser’s father, Charles Balser, was one of those workers. When his diagnosed with cancer, he was quoted by his doctor as saying “I was not exposed to toxic substances while at work”.  Other workers have been quoted as saying,  “ We were all young and didn’t know a lot about what was going on…”.

Originally, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), work related to radioactive materials was conducted in at least three buildings at the Forest Street complex. Later, operations were consolidated into a single structure, Building 10, that was constructed in 1956. Some of the wastes from the manufacturing operations were buried in an outdoor area next to Building 11. Small amounts of radium 226 were also found by radiological surveys in Building 1, the building closest to Forest Street.  Because it could find no documentation limiting potential radiation exposure to a particular building, according to a 2010 Labor Department bulletin, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health assumes that workers could have been exposed to radioactive materials in any part of the Metals & Controls site.

Gail Balser’s father began working for Metals & Controls in December of 1949 and continued to be a loyal and dedicated employee until his retirement some forty (40) years later.  A short six months after his retirement, Charles Balser was diagnosed with cancer.  He passed away in 1993 as a result of that cancer.  Gail Balser remembers as a teenager the many occasions when she met her father at Building 4 off of Forest Street and at the more newly constructed Building 10 set farther back in the Texas Instruments Campus.  She vividly remembers the red film badge dosimeters Mr. Balser wore in the 1970s​ that he had been told were detecting the radiation levels he was exposed to while at work so as to protect him from dangerous levels of radiation.  Clearly,​ this protection was a little too late and failed.

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