Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why Divine Strake & other tests are risky

[Why Divine Strake-like tests and, specifically, the recent Nellis AFB test explosions are risky.]

From: Andrew Kishner <>
To: <>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 12:51:43 -0400
Subject: [idealist] The plutonium plume that fell on Utah

For about two years now, I've been regularly re-reading an article saved on my desktop that is titled 'Atomic "Safety Tests" in 1950s Showered Utah With Plutonium.' It was published by the Washington Post in 1979.

What has bothered me about this article for a long time is that no one ever seems to reference it and, also, that I simply have not been able to understand how it could be true. Most scientists and amateurs, such as myself, know that the fallout from past atomic blasts contained little plutonium since that fission 'trigger' material is usually consumed by the nuclear blast. I also knew about the so-called safety tests of 1957-1958 when the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) conducted plutonium dispersal experiments in and around the Nevada Test Site.

I never believed that when the AEC started blowing up mock or real warheads that the plutonium dust would travel 'that' far into Utah and create 'that' much contamination.

The 1979 Washington Post article states that plutonium was spread across the most densely populated part of Utah - meaning in and around Salt Lake City - in the late 1950s that produced levels of plutonium as much as 3.8 times higher than concentrations elsewhere. What was surprising to those scientists is that the plutonium - the most radiotoxic of all materials - was found in such large quantities. The scientists in Utah attributed it to those safety tests. The same happened with a Nevada graduate student who in the 1990s found plutonium dust in the attics of homes in Las Vegas and other towns in Nevada and Utah that he attributed to the safety tests.

The worst of all the safety tests was 'Project 57,' which contaminated Nevada Test Site's Area 13 with four times more Curies of radioactivity than average at nine other safety test sites. The estimated contamination at Area 13 is 46 Curies - hundreds of acres of soils are contaminated at levels that would provide a fatal dose to humans.

The plume cloud from Project 57 apparently went north-northeast and deposited just over 200 Curies of plutonium over a large area extending towards Ely, Nevada, and into Utah, and possibly Salt Lake City. Since plutonium concentrations greater than 10 picoCuries (10 trillionths of a Curie) per gram are fatal for humans, there are a lot of 'hot' areas at Area 13 and all over Nevada and Utah that contain dangerous levels of plutonium that will remain so for the next 240,000 years. Worse, 99% of the plutonium particulates at Area 13 - and possibly elsewhere - are small enough to be picked up by wind. And worse, Area 13 hasn't been cleaned up and the plutonium there keeps on getting resuspended into other areas that aren't 'protected' by radiation monitoring equipment. The current monitoring network run by the DOE cannot detect alpha or beta radiation (e.g., plutonium 239).

Downwinder activist and playwright Mary Dickson has for a long time tried to call attention to the fact that there are downwinders in northern Utah. Her play 'Exposed' and her many writings testify to the fact that Salt Lake City and its environs were exposed and people have died and are dying from that exposure. It is possible that the lack of data and fallout maps regarding these safety tests has prevented the public from believing these stories and also the link between safety and other atomic tests and radiation-induced illnesses in Northern Utah.

This data, however, isn't forthcoming from the DOE and the DOE's stalled environmental cleanup and incomplete environmental analysis of Area 13 should not go unnoticed. The DOE should complete a new, full-blown EIS for the Nevada Test Site to address these lingering radiation hotspots, the dangers of resuspension and the lack of adequate airborne radiation monitoring in and around downwind communities.

(The information cited above is largely from the following source: 'The American West at Risk' by Howard G. Wilshire, Jane E. Nielson and Richard W. Hazlett pp.395-398)

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