In Memoriam: Charles Edward Pietri


by Wanda Mitchell

Charles Edward Pietri, 81, an emeritus member of the Health Physics Society, died of acute leukemia at his home in Western Springs, Illinois, on 10 February 2012. He was born 6 July 1930 in New York City.

Pietri's contributions to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) New Brunswick Laboratory (NBL) were numerous and wide ranging in scope. Charlie (as he was known at NBL) was a chemist and manager at NBL for over 25 years and, after his retirement from DOE's Chicago Operations Office (CH), was a consultant to NBL management.

Charlie, along with Al Wenzel, performed all NBL plutonium operations in the late 1950s and early 1960s in New Brunswick, New Jersey. As plutonium operations at NBL expanded, he managed the ongoing analytical method development and new facility additions. In the mid-1970s, headquarters decided to relocate the laboratory to the Argonne site in Illinois.

Charlie was tasked with oversight of the construction of plutonium laboratories, nuclear material vaults, and office space in an existing building, as well as the day-to-day handling of the construction of a new uranium building. He hired staff to replace those not planning to make the move from New Jersey and established an operating nuclear facility with all that entails for those new employees and for personnel transferring to Illinois from the New Jersey site.

After the facilities were up and operating in Illinois, Charlie oversaw the implementation of the plutonium analytical methods used by NBL for the next 30 years. He organized and taught in the nuclear materials training school for Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors. He also coordinated the initial automation of NBL's nuclear material control and accountability system before transferring to CH in 1986.

After his retirement from CH, Charlie became a consultant to NBL management. He provided liaison to the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management and to the International Standards Organization for NBL. His contributions in these organizations impacted nuclear materials management worldwide.

Charlie's counsel was always considered. His manner was always enthusiastic. He was a friend and mentor to many and truly built a strong foundation for the New Brunswick Laboratory.

Pietri's obituary can be found here. A memorial service was held 3 March 2012. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his honor may be made to Wellness House, 131 N. County Line Rd., Hinsdale, IL 60521.