The President's recently-appointed commission on radiation effects comes mainly as the result of an annoying squabble within the administration. Exactly which government body should guard the country against fall-out has never been precisely defined, but up to the present time, the Atomic Energy Commission has assumed that responsibility. Recently however, the Public Health Service declared that logically such control should come under its own jurisdiction. The AEC, not caring to relinquish any part of its functions, accused the Health Service of a power grab, and decided to sit tight.
At this point the administration, sensing the immanence of an awkward and totally absurd feud, established the special committee to straighten out the situation and to set up a formal delineation of undefined matters concerning radiation. The necessity for clarification is especially pressing due to a report by AEC scientists that radiation in the atmosphere has doubled following the latest Russian atomic tests, and that radioactive material from the latest type of atomic weapons returns to the atmosphere much sooner than the material from previous bombs.
The President's committee consists of AEC director John A. McCone, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Arthur S. Fleming, and Maurice S. Stans, director of the Budget Bureau. Stans is the chairman, and apparently the final decisions rest with him, in order that probable collision between the other two might be mediated.
There is of course the possibility that no amount of protection against fall-out will be of any use. However as much as possible should be done, and it is a matter of somewhat dry amusement that two branches of the administration with specifically defined activities should bother to concern themselves with a jurisdictional struggle. The administration's committee is the most sensible way of resolving the situation and should quickly and effectively clear away what otherwise might have been a bothersome snarl.