Nuclear history from the archives – theme for December 2016
The start was America’s Manhattan project – developing the atomic bomb. Then came the horror of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Then came – the shock and guilt, and the attempt to turn the nuclear project into something good – “atoms for peace’ “electricity too cheap to meter”.
Of course the costing for “cheap” nuclear energy did not include the health and environmental toll of uranium mining, which, as always, was to be paid by indigenous people. Costing also did not include the virtually eternal toll of the cleaup of radioactive trash. And of course, there would be no accidents, (no Chalk River, Rocky Flats, Windscale, Mayak, Lenin icebreaker, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Tomsk, Hanford, Fukushima Daiichi)
Meanwhile, the military-industrial complex continued its production of nuclear weapons. Other countries adopted the “peaceful nuke”, so that they could develop nuclear weapons. The nuclear arms race was underway.
FROM THE ARCHIVES For this month, each week we’ll be posting an item from the past. Lest we forget.
The press release was drafted ahead of Operation Buffalo at Maralinga, during which troops were ordered to crawl through areas hit by fallout. It was not meant to be made public
Top secret document reveals British troops were knowingly exposed to radiation during nuclear fallout tests – mirror.co.uk, by Susie Boniface, 2 Jan 2011, British troops WERE knowingly exposed to radiation during nuclear fallout tests, a top-secret document has finally proved.
For five decades, successive governments have denied any harm was caused to the 22,000 servicemen ordered to witness nuclear bomb tests in the Fifties and Sixties – saying the explosions were to test the weapons, not their effects on humans, and the men were at a safe distance.
But a draft Press release written before tests in Australia in 1956, now uncovered in the National Archives, reads: “The possible effects of the ingestion of radioactive fallout (by men and animals) will be among the subjects studied.”
It has the words “by men and animals” crossed out in pencil, and the version that was actually released mentions only sheep and small animals.
The document blows apart official claims that the tests were not harmful to the troops who witnessed test blasts in Australia, the US and the South Pacific.
It also backs the test veterans’ claims that they were used as “guinea pigs” by the MoD in its race to build an atomic bomb.
Since the tests they say they have suffered high rates of cancers and other illnesses. More than 1,000 vets and widows have won the right to sue the MoD.
The top-secret Press release was unearthed by veteran David Wilson, 74, from Shropshire, who served as an RAF clerk at Christmas Island in the South Pacific during two bomb blasts.
Mr Wilson, who is one of the vets suing over illnesses he has suffered, said: “We were ordered there purely and simply to witness those tests, as guinea pigs.”
The press release was drafted ahead of Operation Buffalo at Maralinga, during which troops were ordered to crawl through areas hit by fallout. It was not meant to be made public until….
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