The Freedom of Information Act was passed in 1967. This allowed people to finally access the government's documents concerning the Nevada Test Site. In addition to the truth coming to light, by 1979, three different studies had been published which showed a correlation between the ionized radiation fallout and increased cancers and illnesses in Utah. Public outcry demanded an investigation, and so Representative Lee Carter through the House subcommittee on Health and Environment began the 1979 congressional Hearings.
Government officials tried to defend their deceptive practices. Lieutenant General Harry A. Griffith, director of the Defense Nuclear Agency argued twice before congress to say that victims shouldn’t be compensated because it would endanger the ability of all nuclear research to continue. He implied it would be too great a burden on the health care system and therefore they would lower their standards, and the bad reputation of radiation would increase public fear and make it harder to find workers.
F. Peter Libassi, the chairman for the Inter-agency Task force on health Effects of ionizing Radiation testified, “what seems to have been happening in this period of time was in the early 50’s leading scientists believed that relatively low levels of radiation were, in fact, safe. During the late 1950’s and 1960’s there was increasing evidence that these levels of radiation were not safe. Despite this growing evidence, there seemed to be reluctance or an unwillingness to share with the American people the fact that there were growing questions about the safety of low levels of radiation. There seemed to be an unwillingness to address those issues, pursue that research, and to disclose that information to the public…”
"People in southern Utah were mainly concerned with making a living, and I don't recall anyone being too upset about the brilliant flashes and thunder-like blasts that were part of the 1953 atomic testing. The Upshot-Knothole series, conducted from March to June 1953, included the "Dirty Harry' exposure that carried an enormous amount of debris downwind, over southern Utah. People were concerned about the sheep deaths that occurred in May 1953, but when the AEC said there was nothing to worry about, we all just shrugged our shoulders. No one really accepted the malnutrition rationale, but we were used to accepting whatever the government said, especially during that very nationalistic period." Scott Matheson, Governor of Utah from 1977 to 1984 and a former Parowan and Cedar City resident. At the 1979 hearings he presented 1,100 pages of testimony concerning the AEC cover-up and other research. Eventually Matheson "died in 1990 at age 61 of multiple myeloma, a cancer blamed on living downwind of the Nevada Test Site" (Cortez).