nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

The effects of radiation on the “downwinders” – guinea pigs for nuclear bomb research

Now I Am Become Death’: The Legacy of the First Nuclear Bomb Test, NYT,  By Maria Cramer July 15, 2020 

“………The effects of radiation were not well understood by most scientists on the project at the time, according to historians, and the preparations that were made to keep civilians safe reflected that ignorance.

They placed crude monitors around the small towns within 40 miles of the testing site. A scientist who was seven months pregnant and her husband, who was also a scientist, were sent to a motel in one of the towns with a Geiger counter, a device used to detect radioactive emissions, to measure the radiation.  If the needle hit a certain mark, she was instructed to alert officials so that they could evacuate the town, Professor Wellerstein said.

Officials did not warn any of the residents — many of them ranchers, Navajos, Mexican settlers and their descendants who raised cattle and drank water from cisterns — about the test. Should anyone ask about the blast, officials had proposed several cover stories, including telling the public that a remote ammunitions depot had exploded, Professor Wellerstein said.

Officials did not warn any of the residents — many of them ranchers, Navajos, Mexican settlers and their descendants who raised cattle and drank water from cisterns — about the test. Should anyone ask about the blast, officials had proposed several cover stories, including telling the public that a remote ammunitions depot had exploded, Professor Wellerstein said.

“It produced more light and heat than the sun,” said Tina Cordova, a founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, which has urged the government to conduct more research about the aftermath of the blast and to compensate the affected communities.

Based on census data at the time, the consortium estimates there were tens of thousands of people living within a 50-mile radius of the blast, Ms. Cordova said.

Ash fell for days afterward in the landscape and in every direction and in amazing quantities,” she said.

The day after the blast, Leo Szilard, a Hungarian physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project, sent a petition signed by 70 scientists to President Harry S. Truman, urging him to give Japan a chance to surrender before dropping the bombs.

“Thus a nation which sets the precedent of using these newly liberated forces of nature for purposes of destruction may have to bear the responsibility of opening the door to an era of devastation on an unimaginable scale,” the petition cautioned.

It was not the first plea to reconsider using a nuclear bomb to end the war.
A month before the test, a committee, which included Dr. Szilard and was headed by the German scientist James Franck, issued the Franck Report, urging the United States to first demonstrate the power of the weapons to members of the United Nations……….

The bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima are believed to have killed up to about 200,000 people, with many of those victims succumbing to radiation poisoning in the weeks that followed.

Scientists “were totally shocked when the Japanese reported radiation sickness at Nagasaki,” said Professor Wellerstein, who has written about what the United States knew about the long-term consequences of using the weapons……..
The true effects of the test on the people who lived near the test site remain unclear.

The government never conducted a full investigation into the effects of the radiation, even after the communities downwind of the blast saw an unusual spike in infant deaths in the months after the explosion, said Joseph J. Shonka, a scientist and one of the authors of a 2010 study about the effects of nuclear testing for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The Trinity downwinders have not been treated in either a fair or a just manner,” he said.

Ms. Cordova, who grew up in Tularosa, N.M., said cancer had been pervasive in the towns near the Trinity test site, where everyone can name someone who died of the disease.

“We know that the government basically walked away and has taken no responsibility for the suffering and the dying,” said Ms. Cordova, who has survived thyroid cancer and has several relatives who died of various forms of cancer.

Members of Congress from New Mexico have introduced legislation that would expand the Radiation Exposure Compensation Actwhich compensates uranium miners and people who lived downwind from nuclear testing sites, to include the residents who lived around Trinity.

In 2014, the National Cancer Institute began interviewing people who lived in the towns near the testing site to try and document the effects of the blast. The institute said it anticipated publishing the results “within the next few months.”   https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/15/us/trinity-test-anniversary.html

July 16, 2020 - Posted by | health, USA, weapons and war

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: