Friday, February 28, 2014

Where were you in 1954?

If you are in my age group you can probably remember the drills that were carried on in our schools where we would scramble for cover by ducking under our desks. I don't think all of this traumatized us too greatly, but then again the 24-hour news cycle had not yet entered our world.

But if I think about it maybe this is the reason I am so against nuclear energy. Of course back in those days we only thought about "nuclear" in terms of bombs. Those being the ones that actually the United States would drop here and there while at the same time chanting a mantra of "No Nukes".

I do remember the fear of the Soviet Union actually bombing the United States, while we, the children of the world,  huddled for safety under our little school desks.

I think there were a great number of people who really had no idea of the dangers of "nuclear". Just like today, too many people seem to just shrug it off and take the word of others that the dangers of nuclear power are minimal. The idea that a simple school desk frame would offer much protection against nuclear fallout.

It has become our modern day fairytale. You know stories like Cinderella finding her Prince Charming. The story always has a happy ending.....

Well except for those that don't draw the "happy ending" straw.

March 1st will mark the 60th anniversary  of "Castle Bravo". I was a junior in high school and didn't have a care in the world as thousand of miles away the sky lit up with a fireball light......

60th anniversary of "Castle Bravo" H-bomb disaster, March 1, 1954

Castle Bravo was the code name given to the first U.S. test of a dry fuel thermonuclear hydrogen bomb device (the first practical deliverable hydrogen bomb in the U.S. nuclear arsenal), detonated on March 1, 1954 at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, as the first test of Operation Castle. Castle Bravo was the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the United States (and just under one-third the energy of the most powerful ever detonated), with a yield of 15 megatons, about 1,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima or Nagasaki atomic bombs.
A several mile-wide fireball erupted within seconds, visible 250 miles away. A Lucky Dragonfishing boat crew member described the sight as the Sun rising in the west. The crater formed was 6,500 feet in diameter and 250 feet deep. A mushroom cloud 47,000 feet high (nearly 9 miles high) and 7 miles in diameter formed within a minute. The mushroom cloud grew to 130,000 feet high (nearly 25 miles high) and 62 miles in diameter in less than 10 minutes, expanding at 100 meters per second (or 220 miles per hour).
That yield, far exceeding the expected yield of 4 to 6 megatons (due to a theoretical physics error), combined with other factors, led to the most significant accidental radiological contamination ever caused by a United States nuclear weapon test. Fallout from the detonation — intended to be a secret test — poisoned the islanders who had previously inhabited the atoll and returned there afterwards, as well as the crew of Daigo FukuryĆ« Maru ("Lucky Dragon No. 5"), a Japanese fishing boat, and created international concern about atmospheric thermonuclear testing.
The cloud contaminated more than 7,000 square miles of the surrounding Pacific Ocean, including dangerous levels of radioactive fallout over an area hundreds of miles long, including surrounding inhabited islands like RongerikRongelap (100 miles downwind), and Utirik (300 miles downwind). Downwind Marshall Islanders suffered doses as high as 200 Rems, and thus immediate -- as well as latent -- health impacts, including radiation poisoning, and later birth defects and thyroid tumors (children on Rongelap later suffered 90% thyroid tumor rates, beginning just a decade later). In 1964, the U.S. government admitted responsibility and provided some compensation.
Some attribute the radiological incident to moving Nevil Shute to write the 1957 novel On the Beach.
As described on the Wikipedia site for Godzilla, "With the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Lucky Dragon 5 incident still fresh in the Japanese consciousness, Godzilla was conceived as a metaphor for nuclear weapons."
The American magazine Consumer Reports began warning about atmospheric bomb tests’ Strontium-90 fallout contaminating milk supplies.
The documentary film Nuclear Savage chronicles the experience of Marshall Islands under U.S. nuclear weapons testing: "a Pacific island paradise...until the United States tested nuclear weapons and conducted secret human radiation experiments. Experiments that would remain top-secret for decades..."
As Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps described in his "70 Years of Radioactive Risks in America and Japan," presented at Helen Caldicott's conference, Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident, held at the NY Academy of Medicine on the second anniversary of the beginning of the Fukushima catastrophe, the death of a Lucky Dragon #5 crew member, as well as the sale and consumption of radioactive tuna throughout Japan, outraged the Japanese people, less than 9 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Unprecedented, large protests followed. The U.S. and Japanese governments were concerned that Japan would "go communist." The U.S. CIA was deployed to Japan, to sell "Atoms for Peace" to the Japanese people, in an effort to calm the protests. The CIA recruited an agent, Shoriki, a Class A War Criminal, owner of Japan's biggest newspaper and t.v. station, to sell "Atoms for Peace" to the Japanese people. He was wildly successful. This is how the Nuclear Village, and the Nuclear Safety Myth, were born in Japan, ultimately leading to Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe.See Kevin's Power Point presentation, slides 12 to 16 (including the accompanying notes), for more information. 

1 comment:

  1. I have no memories of duck and cover. I was six in 1954 and although I attended school, I don't think they did that with us. Guess I just missed it, Annie. Darn!