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Meet Dirty Harry- Atomic Testing In The US and It's Victims

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T.Ruth2power Donating Member (371 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-11-07 09:48 AM
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Meet Dirty Harry- Atomic Testing In The US and It's Victims
Nuclear Testing and the Downwinders

War in Asia caused the United States to reconsider testing nuclear weapons in the Pacific Ocean and to look for a continental test site. Conflict in Korea justified a less-expensive continental testing site in order to maintain U.S. nuclear weapons superiority. A Nevada site north of Las Vegas was chosen because of its safety features, which included low population density, favorable meteorological conditions (a prevailing easterly wind blowing away from the populous west coast), and good geographical features--that is, hundreds of miles of flat, government-controlled land. On 27 January 1951, a one-kiloton bomb dropped from an airplane and detonated over Frenchman Flat marked the beginning of atmospheric nuclear testing in Nevada.

Relatively few Iron County residents were aware of or concerned about nuclear testing when the first mushroom-shaped cloud rose into the western skies and drifted to the northeast in 1951, but the cloud figuratively remains over southern Utah and Nevada to this day. Residents live with every day what the cloud left behind that the eye could not see. There are no southwestern Utah neighborhoods or communities that have not been touched by the tragedy of cancer or birth defects or lingering bitterness over human and financial losses.

Atomic Energy Commission press releases promised that atomic tests would be conducted "with adequate assurances of safety." Residents of southern Nevada and southern Utah who lived downwind of the tests initially believed what they were told; as one historian wrote, "Their faith and trust in their government would not allow them to even consider the possibility that the government would ever endanger their health." However, their experiences during and since the 1950s have convinced them of just the opposite--there was no safety for either people or livestock from atmospheric nuclear testing and the AEC knew it. Declassified transcripts released from 1978 to 1980 show that scientists knew as early as 1947 that fission products released by atomic bomb tests could be deadly to humans and animals exposed during and after the tests. The AEC chose to ignore warnings from its own scientists and outside medical researchers and continued with a "nothing-must-stop-the-tests" rationale.

As part of a test site public-relations program in March 1953, some 600 observers were invited to view a test shot and its effect on manikins, typical homes, and automobiles in an effort to get Americans more interested in civil defense. Klien Rollo represented the Iron County Record at the media event. Observers watched the detonation seven miles from ground zero and later were taken into the test area, after debris and dust had settled. Rollo at first thought it was "his good fortune" to be invited to the test site, but not many weeks later the newspaper began questioning the safety of nuclear fall-out. It printed a long article by University of Utah student Ralph J. Hafen of St. George in which he wrote that he felt "morally obligated to warn people of the irreparable damage that may have occurred or may in the future occur" from exposure to radiation. He also called upon the AEC to explain why cars entering St. George were washed after the shot. Predicting later problems, he cautioned that "damage done to an individual by radiation often does not make itself known for five to ten years or a generation or more."

The sheep and their owners were Iron County's first victims of radioactivity. While being trailed across Nevada from winter range to the lambing yards at Cedar City, some 18,000-20,000 sheep were exposed to large quantities of radioactive fallout from tests in March and April 1953. Kern and McRae Bulloch first noticed burns on their animals' faces and lips where they had been eating radioactive grass. Then ewes began miscarrying in large numbers and at the lambing yards wool sloughed off in clumps revealing blisters on adult sheep. New lambs were stillborn with grotesque deformities or born so weak they were unable to nurse. Ranchers lost as much as a third of their herds.

Ranchers and preliminary veterinary investigators suspected radiation poisoning. The AEC had given Iron County agricultural agent Steven Brower a Geiger counter, a small radiation meter, to carry with him. At the sheep pens, he reported the "needle on my meter went clear off scale. We picked up high counts on the thyroid and on the top of the head, and there were lesions and scabs on the mouths and noses of the sheep." In early June the AEC sent teams of radiation experts to Cedar City to examine ailing animals. The dead carcasses had already been destroyed. The AEC reportedly forced its scientists to rewrite their field reports and eliminate any references to speculation about radiation damage or effects. The number of dead sheep represented a loss of a quarter of a million dollars to the ranchers, but Brower was told "that AEC could under no circumstance allow the precedent to be set in court or otherwise that AEC was liable or responsible for payment for radiation damage to either animals or humans."

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Summary: Featured speakers/guests:

Well hear the stories from the early years of testing the atomic bomb in Nevada, and how it affected people working at, and living nearby the test site.

In 1951, the first Atom bomb was detonated over a section of desert called Frenchman Flat, about ninety miles northwest of Las Vegas.

For more than forty years, this stretch of sage brush and sand would become ground zero for U.S. nuclear testing. In fact, the last detonation happened just fifteen years ago, on September 23, 1992.

Since the early 1990s, independent producer Claes Andreasson has interviewed test site workers, scientists, legal scholars and test officials, as well as people living downwind from the Nevada Test Site. Dirty Harry: When the American Dream became a Nightmare is a culmination of those interviews.

Host Jon Beaupre will be our guide as we hear the stories about the early years of testing and how it affected people working at, and living nearby the test site.
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T.Ruth2power Donating Member (371 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-11-07 10:06 AM
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1. Fireball Boils Over Site

"A furiously boiling ball of fire, measuring 900 feet from edge to edge, churns with awesome grandeur at the Nevada atom bomb test site. The blast, which was set off on a 500-foot tower, was photographed from a distance of 11 miles."

May 29, 1957
Atomic Test Site, Nev.

The Associated Press captured the explosion in well-wrought, anonymous prose. One of 40 reporters and photographers, accompanied by 14 NATO observers and some civil defense workers, the AP writer described the detonation of the 10-kiloton bomb 500 feet above the Nevada desert on a steel tower:

"The fireball devoured the the tower and shot skyward wrapped in an ugly garment of smoke. A shuddering sound wave rolled off the desert.

"The column of smoke spilled over into the awesome mushroom. And there it hung, churning and thrashing, until dissipated by gentle wind.

"The wind stretched the mushroom and its trunk into long, narrow clouds and bore them to the northwest. When a low, gray haze lifted from the explosion area, test personnel found only stubs of the tower's legs, about four feet high, remaining in the ground. Some lower portions of the tower had fallen onto the sand when the upper section was turned into atomic dust."

But rather than a poetic description, the thrust of the story was about how safe it was to explode atomic devices in the atmosphere. The AP writer made a point of noting that "safety-conscious scientists" had waited for days until the weather was exactly right for testing an atomic bomb. In fact, the writer said, this series of tests was the safest since atomic blasts began at the Nevada test site in 1951.

"As the blast's 35,000-foot mushroom cloud broke up, turned pink under the sun's first rays and floated lazily away, Test Manager James E. Reeves said:

"The heavy fallout is in the test area. Only light, long-delayed fallout will result in off-site areas."

Perfectly safe, folks, this was just a little one.
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begin_within Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-11-07 10:08 AM
Response to Original message
2. It's frightening and fascinating at the same time.
Thanks for posting it. Have you seen these web sites?

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Bitwit1234 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-11-07 11:02 AM
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3. The US still denies that the testing effected anyone
I know any of you with cable have seen the story over and over on History Channel, and all the Discovery Channels, about "What killed John Wayne".

John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Agnes Morehead and 2/3 of the cast and crew who made a movie called "The Conqueror" all died of cancer. Every one has said that the site chosen was in a desolate part of Utah and subject to the downwind type of nuclear fallout for all the years of the bomb testing.

Well Discovery sent people there to test. And guess what with government assistance for testing they didn't find any radiation in the soil, and lo and behold on the clothes on display that was used in the film.

Can you imagine about 2/3 of the people died of cancer. 2/3's. That's way beyond conscience don't you think. It reminds you of the fact that they still say a lot of the people in Las Vegas area during the testing who contracted cancer,and birth defects were not effected. But that's the government for you.
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T.Ruth2power Donating Member (371 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-11-07 01:29 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. If you listen
to any of the old radio warnings it's pretty amazing to hear the guy tell everyone a radioactive cloud is coming stay in your house but "there's no danger."
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