Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Among the one hundred or so business-type activities of the Government are certain operations of the Atomic Energy Commission. In this article we shall examine the origin, growth and usefulness of just one phase of these AEC activities, that is, the production and distribution of radioisotopes. This activity is singled out for emphasis partly because of the remarkable success story resulting from the use of such isotopes, but more especially because of an unusual and even unique aspect of "state trading" introduced into the business by the AEC. We refer to, and shall explain in some detail, an unusual self-limiting feature which the Commission has invoked to bring the governmental activity to an end if, and when, private nuclear enterprise enters the field and serves the needs of consumers. It is this last feature that warrants calling the Commission's radioisotope activity something notable; in fact, it is virtually an ideal in state trading and a credit to a free enterprise economy.