Archive for the ‘personal stories’ Category

The cruel and lonely death of an American nuclear weapons scientist

August 17, 2022

The lost tale of a nuclear scientist’s death in a secret San Francisco hospital room, Katie Dowd, SFGATE, Oct. 23, 2020 Before San Francisco became a metropolis, there was the Presidio. Since its creation as a military base in 1776, it has stood alone in a windswept corner, gathering legends.It has seen executions, tragic accidents and countless hospital patients. And if you’re a believer that violent ends produce restless spirits, the Presidio is full up with phantoms as a result. The most haunted place is said to be Letterman Army Hospital, once the base’s largest medical facility In looking for Presidio ghost stories, though, we stumbled across a far stranger tale than any haunting: the real-life demise of a nuclear scientist — a chapter of the Cold War, as far as we can tell, untold since 1953.

Twitchell was a genius. Born in Minnesota in 1917, he got his undergraduate degree from Rollins College in Florida and a masters in chemistry at UC Berkeley. At 23, he was promoted to project engineer in charge of the equipment department of the University of California radiation lab.

This was no ordinary lab. Among Twitchell’s colleagues were Glenn Seaborg, Ernest O. Lawrence and J. Robert Oppenheimer — all of whom would later contribute to the Manhattan Project — and together the team was working on the discovery of atomic particles. Once World War II broke out, their mission shifted. The lab’s work was now crucial to the creation of nuclear weapons for the U.S. military……….

 In 1952 then just 35 years old. That year, doctors diagnosed him with a malignant brain tumor and told him he likely did not have long to live.

As Twitchell and his wife Marie processed the terrible news, the U.S. government sprung into action. Although he likely would have wanted his palliative care to take place at his home at 2319 Glen Ave., in Berkeley, he was told that wouldn’t be possible. He needed to be moved as soon as possible to a secure location.

The brain tumor presented a particular problem for the Atomic Energy Commission: It had the potential to cause erratic behavior and uncontrolled verbal outbursts. They were fearful that as he lost control of his mental faculties, Twitchell would begin spilling nuclear secrets. He knew “as much about atomic energy as any one man,” an anonymous source in the commission would later tell the Oakland Tribune. So they built a secret ward just for Twitchell. At the cost of $100,000 — nearly $1 million today — construction began at the Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco’s Presidio for the unusual patient. Once finished, all doctors and nurses who might interact with Twitchell were given rigorous screenings for any national security issues. In the end, only one male nurse was trusted to primarily care for Twitchell. A guard stood watch outside the room at all times. Unbeknownst to the other military patients at the hospital, a civilian lay dying in his own wing. “He was the hospital’s hush-hush case,” the San Francisco Examiner reported.

On March 23, 1953, five months after his diagnosis, Twitchell died. Two days later, news broke nationally. “A macabre tale of the atomic age was revealed yesterday,” the Examiner proclaimed. The Atomic Energy Commission was forced to admit Twitchell’s room wasn’t the only one they’d covertly constructed. Around the nation, there were similar isolation wards for individuals dealing in nuclear secrets.

An anonymous source told the Tribune this was standard protocol to keep scientists from blabbing while “unbalanced, anesthetized or under the influence of dentists’ ‘laughing gas.'” Although expensive, it was the only way to maintain national security.

But all this drama meant little to the Twitchells, who were left to bury their loved one…… https://www.sfgate.com/sfhistory/article/letterman-army-hospital-presidio-ghost-uc-berkeley-15668131.php

ELON MUSK IS NOT A RENEGADE OUTSIDER – HE’S A MASSIVE PENTAGON CONTRACTOR

August 4, 2022

while the 50-year-old businessman presents himself as a maverick science genius – an act that has garnered him legions of fans around the world – a closer inspection of his career shows he earned his fortune in a much more orthodox manner. First by being born rich, then by striking it big as a dot-com billionaire, and finally, like so many others, by feeding from the enormous government trough.

Perhaps more seriously though, SpaceX’s close proximity to both the military and the national security state marks it out as a key cog in the machine of U.S. empire, allowing Washington to spy, bomb or coup whoever it wants.

ALAN MACLEOD, Mint Press News, MAY 31ST, 2022 ”………………………………………….. Musk has deliberately cultivated this image of himself: a real life Tony Stark figure who thinks for himself and is not part of the established order. But behind this carefully constructed façade, Musk is intimately connected to the U.S. national security state, serving as one of its most important business partners. Elon, in short, is no threat to the powerful, entrenched elite: he is one of them.

TO UKRAINE, WITH LOVE

Musk, whose estimated $230 billion fortune is more than twice the gross domestic product of Ukraine, has garnered a great deal of positive publicity for donating thousands of Starlink terminals to the country, helping its people come back online after fighting downed the internet in much of the country. Starlink is an internet service allowing those with terminals to connect to one of over 2,400 small satellites in low Earth orbit. Many of these satellites were launched by Musk’s SpaceX technologies company.

However, it soon transpired that there is far more than meets the eye with Musk’s extraordinary “donation.” In fact, the U.S. government quietly paid SpaceX top dollar to send their inventory to the warzone. USAID – a government anti-insurgency agency that has regularly functioned as a regime-change organization – is known to have put up the cash to purchase and deliver at least 1,330 of the terminals.

Starlink is not a mass-market solution. Each terminal – which is, in effect, a tiny, portable satellite dish – has a markedly limited range, and is useful only in hyper-local situations. Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, estimated that the 10,000 Starlink terminals were allowing around 150,000 people to stay online.

Such a small number of people using the devices raises eyebrows. Who is important enough to be given such a device? Surely only high-value individuals such as spies or military operatives. That the Starlinks are serving a military purpose is now beyond clear. Indeed, in a matter of weeks, Starlink has become a cornerstone of the Ukrainian military, allowing it to continue to target Russian forces via drones and other high-tech machinery dependent on an internet connection. One official told The Times of London that he “must” use Starlink to target enemy forces via thermal imaging.

Starlink is what changed the war in Ukraine’s favor. Russia went out of its way to blow up all our comms. Now they can’t. Starlink works under Katyusha fire, under artillery fire. It even works in Mariupol,” one Ukrainian soldier told journalist David Patrikarakos.

The reference to Mariupol alludes to the infamous Nazi group, the Azov Battalion, who have also reportedly been using Musk’s technology. Even in a subterranean cavern beneath Mariupol’s steelworks, Azov fighters were able to access the internet and communicate with the outside world, even doing video interviews from underground. In 2015, Congress attempted to add a provision to U.S. military aid to Ukraine stipulating that no support could go to Azov owing to their political ideology. That amendment was later removed at the behest of the Pentagon.

Dave Tremper, Director of Electronic Warfare at the Pentagon, sang SpaceX’s praises. “How they did that [keeping Ukrainian forces online] was eye-watering to me,” he said, adding that in the future the U.S. military “needs to be able to have that agility.”

ROCKETMAN

Such a statement is bound to get the attention of SpaceX chiefs, who have long profited from their lucrative relationship with the U.S. military. SpaceX relies largely on government contracts, there being almost no civilian demand for many of its products, especially its rocket launches.

Musk’s company has been awarded billions of dollars in contracts to launch spy satellites for espionage, drone warfare and other military uses. For example, in 2018, SpaceX was chosen to blast a $500 million Lockheed Martin GPS system into orbit. While Air Force spokesmen played up the civilian benefits of the launch, such as increased accuracy for GPS devices, it is clear that these devices play a key role in global surveillance and ongoing drone wars. SpaceX has also won contracts with the Air Force to deliver its command satellite into orbit, with the Space Development Agency to send tracking devices into space, and with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to launch its spy satellites. These satellites are used by all of the “big five” surveillance agencies, including the CIA and the NSA.

Thus, in today’s world, where so much intelligence gathering and target acquisition is done via satellite technology, SpaceX has become every bit as important to the U.S. war machine as more well-known companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Without Musk’s company, the U.S. would not be able to carry out such an invasive program of spying and drone warfare around the world. Indeed, China is growing increasingly wary of this power, and is being advised to develop anti-satellite technologies to counter SpaceX’s all-seeing eye. Yet Musk himself continues to benefit from a general perception that he is not part of the system.

From its origins in 2002, SpaceX has always been extremely close to the national security state, particularly the CIA. Perhaps the most crucial link is Mike Griffin, who, at the time, was the president and COO of In-Q-Tel, a CIA-funded venture capital firm that seeks to nurture and sponsor new companies that will work with the CIA and other security services, equipping them with cutting edge technology. The “Q” in its name is a reference to “Q” from the James Bond series – a creative inventor who supplies the spy with the latest in futuristic tech………………………..

While at NASA, Griffin brought Musk in for meetings and secured SpaceX’s big break. In 2006, NASA awarded the company a $396 million rocket development contract – a remarkable “gamble” in Griffin’s words, especially as it had never launched a rocket before. As National Geographic put it, SpaceX, “never would have gotten to where it is today without NASA.” And Griffin was essential to this development. Still, by 2008, SpaceX was again in dire straits, with Musk unable to make payroll. The company was saved by an unexpected $1.6 billion NASA contract for commercial cargo services. Thus, from its earliest days, SpaceX was nurtured by government agencies that saw the company as a potentially important source of technology.

NUKING MARS & BACKING COUPS

Like Henry Ford, Musk went into the automobile business, purchasing Tesla Motors in 2004. And also like Henry Ford, he has shared some rather controversial opinions. In 2019, for instance, he suggested that vaporizing Mars’ ice caps via a series of nuclear explosions could warm the planet sufficiently to support human life. If this was done, it would arguably not even be his worst crime against space. During a 2018 publicity stunt, he blasted a Tesla into outer space using a SpaceX rocket. However, he did not sterilize the vehicle before doing so, meaning it was covered in earthly bacteria – microorganisms that will likely be fatal to any alien life they encounter. In essence, the car is a biological weapon that could end life on any planet it encounters.

NUKING MARS & BACKING COUPS

Like Henry Ford, Musk went into the automobile business, purchasing Tesla Motors in 2004. And also like Henry Ford, he has shared some rather controversial opinions. In 2019, for instance, he suggested that vaporizing Mars’ ice caps via a series of nuclear explosions could warm the planet sufficiently to support human life. If this was done, it would arguably not even be his worst crime against space. During a 2018 publicity stunt, he blasted a Tesla into outer space using a SpaceX rocket. However, he did not sterilize the vehicle before doing so, meaning it was covered in earthly bacteria – microorganisms that will likely be fatal to any alien life they encounter. In essence, the car is a biological weapon that could end life on any planet it encounters.

Musk also attracted attention when he appeared to admit that he worked with the U.S. government to overthrow Bolivian President Evo Morales in 2019…………………..  The new government quickly invited Musk for talks. When asked on Twitter point blank whether he was involved in Morales’ ouster, Musk responded, “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.”………………………..

WORLD’S RICHEST MAN, FUNDED BY TAXPAYERS

In addition to the billions in government contracts Musk’s companies have secured, they also have received similar numbers in public subsidies and incentives. Chief among these is Tesla, which benefits greatly from complex international rules around electric vehicle production. In a push to reduce carbon emissions, governments around the world have introduced a system of credits for green vehicles, whereby a certain percentage of each manufacturer’s output must be zero-emission vehicles. Tesla only produces electric cars, so easily meets the mark.

However, the system also allows Tesla to sell their excess credits to manufacturers who cannot meet these quotas. In a competitive market where each manufacturer needs to hit certain targets, these credits are worth their weight in gold, and net Tesla billions in profit every year. For example, between 2019 and 2021 alone, Stellantis, which owns the Chrysler, Fiat, Citroen and Peugeot brands, forked out nearly $2.5 billion to acquire Tesla U.S. and European green credits.

This bizarre and self-defeating system goes some way to explaining why Tesla is worth more by market cap than Toyota, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, GM, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and Volvo put together, despite not being even a top-15 car manufacturer in terms of units sold.

Musk’s company also received significant government backing in its early stages, receiving a $465 million low-interest loan from the Department of Energy in 2010, at a time when Tesla was on the rocks and its future was in doubt.

Like many giant companies, Tesla is able to play states off against each other, each job-hungry location bidding against the others to give the corporation as much free cash and tax incentives as possible. In 2020, for example, Austin gave Tesla more than $60 million in tax breaks to build a truck plant there.

This, however, was small fry in comparison to some of the deals Musk has signed. The State of New York handed Musk over $750 million, including $350 million in cash, in exchange for building a solar plant outside of Buffalo – a plant that Musk was bound to build somewhere in the United States. Meanwhile, Nevada signed an agreement with Tesla to build its Gigafactory near Reno. The included incentives mean that the car manufacturer could rake in nearly $1.3 billion in tax relief and tax credits. Between 2015 and 2018, Musk himself paid less than $70,000 in federal income taxes.

Therefore, while the 50-year-old businessman presents himself as a maverick science genius – an act that has garnered him legions of fans around the world – a closer inspection of his career shows he earned his fortune in a much more orthodox manner. First by being born rich, then by striking it big as a dot-com billionaire, and finally, like so many others, by feeding from the enormous government trough.

Perhaps more seriously though, SpaceX’s close proximity to both the military and the national security state marks it out as a key cog in the machine of U.S. empire, allowing Washington to spy, bomb or coup whoever it wants.

It is for this reason that so much of the hysteria, both positive and negative, over Musk’s ongoing purchase of Twitter is misplaced. Elon Musk is neither going to save nor destroy Twitter because he is not a crusading rebel challenging the establishment: he is an integral part of it.  https://www.mintpressnews.com/elon-musk-not-renegade-outsider-cia-pentagon-contractor/280972/

Girl’s Cancer Leads Mom to ‘Overwhelming’ Discovery of More Than 50 Sick Kids Near Closed Nuclear Lab

April 30, 2022

https://people.com/health/calif-girls-cancer-leads-mom-to-overwhelming-discovery-more-than-50-kids-near-closed-lab-were-also-sick/ By Johnny Dodd, 29 Apr 22,

“Pediatric cancer is rare — you’re not supposed to have neighbors whose children also have it,” says Melissa Bumstead, who “knew I had to do something”  

Melissa Bumstead made a terrifying discovery in 2014 as her four-year-old daughter Grace lay in a hospital bed battling a rare form of leukemia. While keeping vigil at the Los Angeles medical center where Grace was receiving treatment, Bumstead began meeting the parents of more than 50 children with equally rare cancers and was horrified to learn that they all lived near one another.

“I just kept meeting people who lived down the corner or around the block or behind the high school,” she tells PEOPLE during an interview in this week’s issue. “And that’s when the panic started to set in.”

Even more alarming, Bumstead soon learned that all their homes were located in a circle around a 2,850-acre former top-secret rocket engine and nuclear energy test site—built in 1947—that had long been contaminated with radioactive waste and toxic chemicals.

And for the past seven years the 41-year-old mother of two, who lives 3.7 miles west of the facility, has helped lead the fight to finally get the Santa Susana Field Laboratory property — run chiefly by the Department of Energy, Boeing and NASA before its closure in 2006 — cleaned up.

“This is a hugely contaminated site that contains a who’s-who of chemicals toxic to human health,” says Dr. Robert Dodge, a Ventura, Calif., family doctor and board member of the group Physicians for Social Responsibility. “They can cause cancers, leukemias, along with developmental, genetic, neurologic and immune system disorders.”

While caring for her daughter, whose acute lymphoblastic leukemia has been in remission since a bone marrow transplant five years ago, Bumstead and her group — Parents Against the Santa Susana Field Lab — has pressured California state officials to enforce a 2007 cleanup agreement, scheduled to have been completed in 2017, that they say has remained stalled. That agreement, among other things, called for the removal of contaminated topsoil that residents allege gets blown from the site into surrounding communities by high winds or washed offsite during rains.

Since 2015 Bumstead has immersed herself in scientific studies on the site, testifying at countless public meetings, launching a Facebook page (now with nearly 5,000 members) and creating a change.org petition on the issue (that has attracted over 750,000 signatures).

“It was frightening,” says Bumstead, who is featured in the 2021 documentary In The Dark of the Valley, “to read studies about how adults who lived within two miles from the lab had a 60 percent higher cancer rate than those living more than five miles away or that over 1,500 former workers at the site received federal compensation after being diagnosed with cancer.”

Even more frightening for Bumstead was learning that the lab was the location of one of the nation’s largest — and least known — nuclear accidents that occurred 1959 when one of the facility’s ten sodium nuclear reactors experienced a partial meltdown, releasing enormous amounts of radiation into the surrounding environment.   

“It’s exhausting, depressing and often overwhelming,” says Bumstead of her crusade to get the contaminated site cleaned up. “But the cancer was all around us. And I realized that kids are just going to keep getting sick. So I need to do something to make the situation better.”         

Extremely rare brain cancer appearing in people who attended a New Jersey school, close to former nuclear weapons fuel plant

April 30, 2022

94 former staff and students from Colonia High School in the Woodbridge Township School District have been stricken by the devastating diagnoses in recent years.

While the exact number of former faculty and staff diagnosed with glioblastoma is not precisely known, the cancer is exceedingly rare. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, glioblastoma has an incidence of 3.21 per 100,000

Nearly 100 people at this NJ school got brain tumors — a survivor demands answers,  https://nypost.com/2022/04/14/why-nearly-100-people-at-nj-school-got-brain-tumors/?fbclid=IwAR1IItuf3UXbHuJAJr-gByHSGIgbgX1lZYsljrokhDTk6z1Dx77P5UMwrg4

By Andrew Court

A cancer survivor is vowing to untangle the twisted mystery of why almost 100 people associated with a New Jersey high school have developed “extremely” rare malignant brain tumors.

Al Lupiano is among the 94 former staff and students from Colonia High School in the Woodbridge Township School District who have been stricken by the devastating diagnoses in recent years.

“I will not rest until I have answers,” Lupiano, 50, declared in an interview with NJ.com and the Star-Ledger on Thursday. “I will uncover the truth.”

Among the others diagnosed with brain cancer was Lupiano’s younger sister, who passed away from the disease in February at the age of 44.

The devoted brother promised his sister on her deathbed that he would get to the bottom of what was causing the apparent cancer cluster at Colonia High. On Tuesday — after a public push by Lupiano — local officials approved an emergency probe of the school.

“There could be a real problem here, and our residents deserve to know if there are any dangers,” Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac said in a statement. “We’re all concerned, and we all want to get to the bottom of this. This is definitely not normal.”

Starting this weekend, various radiological assessments will be conducted across the school’s 28-acre campus, including the testing of indoor air samples for radon.

Lupiano was diagnosed with a brain tumor back in the late 1990s, at the age of 27. He went on to recover from the disease.

Last year, his wife — who also attended Colonia — was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. On the exact same day, Lupiano’s younger sister, Angela DeCillis, another alumna of Colonia, learned that she too had brain cancer.

After his sister’s death in February, Lupiano became convinced of a link between the Colonia campus and the brain cancers that he, his wife and his sister had developed. Last month, he started a Facebook group asking locals whether they knew of any other people associated with the school who had been stricken by similar diagnoses.

In less than six weeks, Lupiano says, he has gathered the names of 94 people connected with the school who have developed brain tumors.

The disturbing development became headline news this week after CBS News took it national. A subsequent TikTok video discussing the medical mystery has also racked up more than 2.2 million viral views in just 24 hours.

The vast majority of those who have developed brain tumors “graduated between 1975 and 2000, although outliers have come as recently as a 2014 graduate,” according to the Star-Ledger.

The diagnoses include “several types of primary brain tumors, including cancerous forms like glioblastoma and noncancerous yet debilitating masses such as acoustic neuromas, haemangioblastomas and meningiomas.”

“To find something like this … is a significant discovery,” Dr. Sumul Raval, one of New Jersey’s top neuro-oncologists, told the outlet. “Normally speaking, you don’t get radiation in a high school … unless something is going on in that area that we don’t know,” Raval added, calling for an immediate investigation.

The viral TikTok video discussing the purported cancer cluster was posted Wednesday by popular personality Dr. Joe Whittington.

Whittington — a board-certified MD in California — claimed several of the brain tumors developed by ex-Colonia High staff and students are glioblastoma multiforme — an aggressive cancer which spreads to brain tissue.

While the exact number of former faculty and staff diagnosed with glioblastoma is not precisely known, the cancer is exceedingly rare. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, glioblastoma has an incidence of 3.21 per 100,000.

Meanwhile, the TikTok video sparked panic and a range of conspiracy-theory style comments, with people claiming mold, toxic waste, asbestos and nearby cellphone towers could all be causing the cluster.

Lupiano also spoke with CBS News on Thursday, saying he now believes ionizing radiation must be responsible for the health issues.

“What I find alarming is there’s truly only one environmental link to primary brain tumors, and that’s ionizing radiation,” he declared. “It’s not contaminated water. It’s not air. It’s not something in soil. It’s not something done to us due to bad habits.”

The school was built back in 1967 on acres of empty land, with McCormac telling the news network he is stumped as to what could be causing the cancers.

Lupiano alleges that some contaminated soil was removed from the site when it closed down in 1967 — the same year Colonia High School was built. He now wonders whether some of that soil ended up on the school grounds.CBS2

He has reached out to the state Department of Health, Department of Environmental Protection and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry for help — which is reportedly still in the “early stages,” according to the CBS News report.

Lupiano told NJ Spotlight News that the school is located less than 12 miles from the Middlesex Sampling Plant — a site that was used, under the direction of the Manhattan Project, to crush, dry, store, package and ship uranium ore for the development of the atomic bomb.

He alleges that some contaminated soil was removed from the site when it closed down in 1967 — the same year Colonia High School was built. Lupiano is wondering whether some of that soil ended up on the school grounds.

Today, Colonia enrolls approximately 1,300 students, with many said to be “anxious” about the possible cancer cluster.

“We are looking at possible things that we can do between the town and school, and they said they will look at anything we come up with,” McCormac said.  at top   https://nypost.com/2022/04/14/why-nearly-100-people-at-nj-school-got-brain-tumors/?fbclid=IwAR1IItuf3UXbHuJAJr-gByHSGIgbgX1lZYsljrokhDTk6z1Dx77P5UMwrg4

The personal toll of nuclear bomb tests on soldiers and their families

April 30, 2022

Nuclear test veterans were more likely to have cancer and die, government study finds, Mirror, BySusie Boniface 25 Feb 2022

”………………………………………………………….This isn’t history, it is our daily lives’

Ken McGinley was sent to Christmas Island aged 19. He later became sterile and developed a rare blood cancer. He founded the BNTVA in 1983, and has now been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

He said: “This study is proof, but it isn’t the full picture. It doesn’t analyse the sterility, birth defects, or miscarriages, or the number of cancers some of us have had and survived.

“It’s time for full disclosure – a public inquiry. This isn’t history, it is our daily lives, and the government must act now to deliver justice before that anniversary.”

Ken, 83, of Paisley, added: “I was treated like an enemy of the state. I wasn’t given my blood cancer diagnosis although it was in my notes, my benefits were stopped, and when my wife Alice and I were trying for children, a note was added to our file that the doctors would be ‘very interested in the outcome of any pregnancy ’.”

‘Tragedy took over mum’s life’

After The Mirror called for a medal, then-Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson met campaigners in 2018.

Widow Shirley Denson, whose husband Eric was an RAF pilot ordered to fly through a mushroom cloud in 1958, walked into the room and said: “So, you’re the man responsible for killing my husband.”

Shirley, of Morden, Surrey, had uncovered documents proving Eric was used in an experiment on his plane, and had the equivalent of 1,649 X-rays to his brain in just six minutes. He later took his own life after two decades of crippling headaches, saying he couldn’t stand it any more. A third of his descendants have birth defects, including missing and extra teeth.

Mr Williamson was so impressed by her that he ordered fresh research.

Shirley died before it could be published, in March last year, with the MoD refusing her deathbed plea for a medal.

Daughter Shelley, 59, said: “My mum was a formidable woman. She raised four daughters, and had to deal with the tragedy not just of my dad’s suicide, but his illness in the years before it. It took over her life.

“This study proves what she always said, when the government claimed there was no evidence – we ARE the evidence. All those young men who were sent to their deaths, just married, with children on the way or yet to come, and then left to rot.

“I hope now that the veterans and their families finally get everything they deserve. It would be an awesome legacy for my mum. She fought so valiantly, and it broke her heart that there was no justice for her girls.”…………………

Operation Buffalo took place in Australia and 1956 and included an “indoctrinee force” ordered to walk, crawl and run through fallout to see how much stayed on their uniforms. Some were ordered to sit in tanks close to the blast to test the effect on men and machinery. The study found all of them had a radiation dose, 85 per cent were dead, more than a quarter died from cancer, and they had double the risk of dying from leukaemia and unspecified tumours. https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/nuclear-test-veterans-were-more-26331008

Jimmy Carter hailed as ‘action’ hero for stopping nuclear meltdown at 28

December 26, 2021

Jimmy Carter hailed as ‘action’ hero for stopping nuclear meltdown at 28  https://nypost.com/2021/12/16/jimmy-carter-is-action-hero-for-stopping-nuclear-disaster/
By Hannah Sparks, December 16, 2021  Who needs action movies when there are real-life superheroes like Jimmy Carter among us?

A viral Twitter thread is reminding the world that the 39th US President James Earl Carter Jr., now 97, actually rescued Ottawa, Ontario, from nuclear destruction as a 28-year-old way back on Dec. 12, 1952.

“Do you remember the world’s very first nuclear meltdown? That time the US President, an expert in nuclear physics, heroically lowered himself into the reactor and saved Ottawa, Canada’s capital?” asked Canadian physicist University of Ottawa professor Jeff Lundeen in his now-viral thread, originally posted Tuesday but officially trending two days later.

Sounds like schlocky action movie, but it actually happened!”

Lundeen’s revelatory tweet to his modest 1,078 followers now boasts nearly 50,000 likes, more than 20,000 retweets and hundreds of cheerfully shocked comments. He included data from the Ottawa Historical Society and a snippet of a 2011 report documenting Carter’s heroics, and he followed up with several other media sources that recount the historic tale.

As the story goes, the Plains, Ga., native planned his entire life to join the Navy — and did so when he received his appointment to the Naval Academy in 1942. After graduating with distinction, Carter spent two years completing his service ship duty before signing on to the Submarine Force. Following a series of relocations and promotions, the young lieutenant would request to join Captain Hyman G. Rickover’s nuclear sub program, where they were developing the world’s first atomic subs.

Rickover then sent Carter to work for the US Atomic Energy Commission, where he served on temporary duty with the Naval Reactors Branch. Meanwhile, a few months later, an accidental power surge at Chalk River Laboratories in Ottawa caused fuel rods within a nuclear research reactor to rupture and melt — risking a full nuclear meltdown.

It was the first such incident of its kind, and Carter’s team of 23 men was ordered to clean it up.

I

n a scene straight out of modern-day blockbusters, the operation would require the brave men to descend into the core by rope and pulley so they could deconstruct the reactor bolt by bolt. The lab had set up a duplicate reactor as a training field for Carter’s team, who would get only one shot at the real thing. Each man would have to descend into the core and complete their high-flying tasks in 90-second spurts, as exposure to toxic radiation within the reactor posed a high risk to their long-term health.

Their plan went off without a hitch. The core was shut down and then rebuilt. From there, Carter went on to become the engineering officer for the USS Seawolf, one of the first submarines to operate on atomic power. By 1961, he retired from the Navy and Reserves, and, in 1963, ran for his first political office.

For those who admire the single-term Democratic president, Lundeen’s tweet was just another reminder of Carter’s selfless service — and good jokes.

One top Twitter response included a quote from the president, who visited Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island power plant in 1979, during their disastrous partial meltdown.

When asked by media if he thought it too dangerous to visit the radioactive site, he reportedly quipped, “No, if it was too dangerous they would have sent the vice president.”

Nuclear test veterans: ‘My dad was treated like a guinea pig’

June 17, 2021

Nuclear test veterans: ‘My dad was treated like a guinea pig’, By Chris Wood, BBC News 30 May 21,  When David Purse was sent to Australia, he thought it would be a “wild adventure” in a little-explored place.

However, the RAF flight lieutenant’s posting to a remote area called Maralinga was to test atomic weapons.

Son Steve, 47, from Prestatyn in Denbighshire, puts his own “unique” condition down to “a rare genetic mutation” caused by radiation.

The Ministry of Defence said three large studies found no link between the tests and ill health.

But a study at Brunel University is currently looking at the possibility genetic damage from the tests has affected the children of personnel.

“Flying through mushroom clouds or watching”, Steve believes men were “treated like guinea pigs” and wants recognition for them, adding: “It wasn’t an act of God but an act of government.”

In all, about 40,000 British personnel took part in the testing of atomic and hydrogen bombs in the 1950s and 1960s.

Most were in the Pacific – the biggest being Operation Grapple, where about 22,000 people oversaw the exploding of bombs in 1957.

Maralinga, in South Australia, saw the first test launches of atomic weapons from aircraft in 1962.

“He was told at short notice and was looking forward to visiting a warm country, a relatively unexplained place, and having a wild adventure,” Steve said of his father.

However, he was “close enough to ground zero to see sand to turn to glass” during tests, with no protective equipment.

Steve added: “There was a rope saying ‘do not enter’ but radiation was in the sand and would blow into food, into their face.

“They would swim in the lagoon, and catch fish that contained highly toxic radiation.”……………..

Steve describes his condition as “unique”, with doctors unable to diagnose it exactly, but says it is a form of short stature, similar to that of actor Warwick Davis.

He believes it is because of a “rare genetic mutation” as a result of the nuclear tests, and part of the “roulette” future generations must live with.

Steve is worried his baby son, Sascha, could also develop problems as he grows older.

“That’s the sad thing, it probably won’t die with veterans,” he said………

The possibility that children of personnel could be affected was first raised in a study at New Zealand’s Massey University in 2007.

Al Rowlands, who led the investigation at the university, said results were “unequivocal” that veterans had suffered genetic damage as a result of radiation.

Support group Labrats estimates there are 200,000 descendants of those who took part in British tests – and says the UK is the only nuclear state not to properly recognise its veterans and support them.

It conducted a health survey with 123 people who took part in tests, 76 from the UK.

“Many [problems experienced by descendants] tend to be autoimmune diseases, but if there are problems, they tend to be severe,” said founder Alan Owen.

“There are bone problems, teeth problems, eye sight. Issues that are meant to affect one in 1,000 – we talked to 10 descendants, four were affected.

“They have developed cancer, heart problems, a wide range of diseases.”

He described talking to veterans about their fears, adding: “When a grandchild is born, they don’t ask if it’s a boy or a girl, but if it’s okay. It’s quite sad they’re living with that now.”

Mr Owen’s father was involved at Operation Dominic, where the United States conducted 31 tests in the Pacific in 1962.

The American government has paid compensation to British personnel present and Mr Owen wants recognition by UK authorities.

He believes there are about 1,500 British nuclear veterans still alive, adding: “All they want is for the government to say ‘we did wrong, it was the 1950s’.

“No prime minister has ever met nuclear veterans. Anthony Eden was warned about the consequences and his reply was ‘it’s a pity but we can’t help it’…………

A number of veterans have already called for an apology, linking their cancer to the testing.

The Ministry of Defence responded by saying: “The National Radiological Protection Board has carried out three large studies of nuclear test veterans and found no valid evidence to link participation in these tests to ill health.”

The Brunel University study has been carried out with those involved in British nuclear tests and their children, with results due soon.

“We anticipate that our findings will have a lasting benefit for the broader nuclear community by providing scientific evidence that will resolve current uncertainties and speculation about potential adverse health effects in nuclear test veterans and their families,” said chief investigator Rhona Anderson.  https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-57157476

Early atomic bomb research – the ‘demon core’ that killed physicist Harry Daghlian 

June 17, 2021

The Demon Core: How One Man Intervened With His Bare Hands During A Nuclear Accident   https://www.iflscience.com/physics/the-demon-core-accident-how-one-man-stopped-a-nuclear-detonation-with-his-bare-hands/ 17 May 21,

Following the end of World War 2 and the devastating impacts of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings, the Cold War was looming. The immense destruction and power promised by atomic bombs pushed world superpowers into a nuclear research frenzy, with the USA preparing to drop a third on Japan , and the remaining nations creating their own arsenal as a deterrent or defense.  

Enter the ‘demon core’. Sitting at a sizeable 6.2 kilograms (13.7 pounds) and 3.5 inches in diameter, this spherical mass of radioactive plutonium (at the time named ‘Rhufus’) was designed in nuclear research to be a fissile core for early iterations of the atomic bomb. Throughout 1945 and 1946, the demon core was experimented on ……

As expected from its’ ominous title, the demon core was not kind to the nuclear physicists involved. Designed as a bomb core, it had just a tiny margin before it would increase radioactivity and become supercritical (once the fission reaction has begun, it increases in rate). Therefore, any external factors that could increase reactivity, for example, compression of the core (which is how the fission bomb detonates), must be carefully monitored around the demon core.

Despite the danger, researchers used the core as an experimental piece on supercriticality, using neutron reflectors to push it to its’ limits. Neutron reflectors are used to surround the core, and as the nuclear fission reaction occurs, they reflect neutrons back at the nuclear material to increase the amount of fission taking place.

In 1945, alone in his laboratory, physicist Harry Daghlian was performing a neutron reflector experiment on the demon core when he mistakenly dropped a brick of reflective tungsten carbide onto the core, pushing it into supercriticality and releasing a deadly burst of neutron radiation. After a 3-week battle with acute radiation sickness, Daghlian succumbed to his wounds, leading to tighter legislation around nuclear research in the Manhattan Project – although it would not be strict enough.

Despite the danger, researchers used the core as an experimental piece on supercriticality, using neutron reflectors to push it to its’ limits. Neutron reflectors are used to surround the core, and as the nuclear fission reaction occurs, they reflect neutrons back at the nuclear material to increase the amount of fission taking place.

In 1945, alone in his laboratory, physicist Harry Daghlian was performing a neutron reflector experiment on the demon core when he mistakenly dropped a brick of reflective tungsten carbide onto the core, pushing it into supercriticality and releasing a deadly burst of neutron radiation. After a 3-week battle with acute radiation sickness, Daghlian succumbed to his wounds, leading to tighter legislation around nuclear research in the Manhattan Project – although it would not be strict enough.

That burst of radiation would kill Slotin within 9 days of exposure. Stood right beside him during the accident, Alvin Graves would also receive a huge dose of radiation but would survive the ordeal and live for another 20 years before death. Owing to Slotin’s quick thinking and body position, which absorbed most of the radiation, the remaining onlookers were shielded from the blast and survived to tell the tale.  

Following the accidents, the core would finally gain its name as the demon core, before being recycled down into other fissile cores. 

Dr Helen Caldicott as mentor for anti-nuclear activists.

February 18, 2021

My Six Mentors,  “…….Helen Caldicott, MD,  by Mary Olson, Gender and Radiation Impact Project, 1 January 20121

Helen Caldicott deserves a much greater place in our histories of the Cold War and ending the USA / USSR arms race than she generally gets. This is, perhaps, because she is powerful and a woman. A pediatrician, who in the 1970’s would not tolerate the radioactive fallout she and her patients were suffering from nuclear weapons tests in Australia, Helen and her family came to the USA. She and another physician named Ira Helfand revived what had been a local Boston organization of physicians and created a Nobel Prize winning organization called Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), which later participated in the creation of another Nobel Prize winning group, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). These two along with hundreds of other organizations committed to peace and nuclear disarmament formed the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) which has helped to create the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (see http://icanw.org/the-treaty ) and also won the Nobel Prize (2017).

Helen herself is a powerful communicator and will move audiences at a level that can change the course of someone’s life and work. She followed her own destiny to winning meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev, President of the Soviet Union, where she educated him about Nuclear Winter and the fact that nuclear is not a war that anyone can win. She also met with President Reagan in the era and diagnosing early-stage dementia… Her ability to bring the reality of the world to these men, and reality of these men to the world set her aside, in a class by herself—and was an enormous contribution to us all.

I first met Helen in the body of her Cold War block-buster book “Nuclear Madness.” I was in the midst of an existential crisis that could have become an even bigger health crisis.  After college I needed a job (not yet a career) because I was broke, broken up from my first “true” love, and far from home. I got a job as a research assistant in a lab at a prestigious medical school; it was 1984.

Within 2 weeks, I was inadvertently contaminated with radioactivity (without my knowledge) by carelessness of a lab-mate. The radioactive material, Phosphorus-32 is used in research to trace biochemical activity in living organisms. This type of radioactivity is not deeply penetrating, so there was some reason not to panic, however the I was exposed continuously for over a week, and I also found radioactivity at home– my toothbrush was “hot”—so I had also had some level of internal exposure. I was terrified. The lab used concentrations of the tracer thousands of times higher than is typical.

The institution told me there was no danger, but because I was upset, they helped me transfer to a different job. No accident report was filed, and in the midst of transition, my radiation detection badge was never processed. It is not possible to know the dimensions of my exposure—I began having symptoms that were not normal for me. Many people, including some family members told me I was imagining things. No one in my circle understood how terrified I was.

I was fortunate that Helen had already written “Nuclear Madness”—the first edition came out in 1978, just before the March 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown in Harrisburg PA—an event that propelled the book into multiple printings including a Bantam Paperback edition that I found. It turned out that 7 years later I helped Helen to revise and update the same text for the 1994 WW Norton edition. It was Helen’s deep commitment to truth, to speaking and writing that truth, to empowering people to take action for good. Helen’s words accurately described radiation and its potential for harm, and in my panic about the unknown, this calmed me.

Every other authority I had encountered was trying to tell me there was no problem—when I knew they had no right to dismiss what had happened to me.  I am quite certain that had I remained alone with my fear, despair, and confusion my panic would have resulted in behaviors that would have compounded any harm bodily from that radioactive contamination. Reading Helen’s work let me know there was at least one woman walking the Earth who did know what I was going through… it made it possible for me to choose recovery and walk away from a legal battle that would have forced me to maintain, hold and prove a myself a victim. Instead, following in Helen’s wake, I chose Peaceful Warrior. Thank you Helen! : ……….. https://www.genderandradiation.org/blog/2020/12/31/my-six-mentors

 

Mary Olson pays tribute to Rosalie Bertell, the great explainer of radiation impacts on health

February 18, 2021

My Six Mentors,   by Mary Olson, Gender and Radiation Impact Project, 1 January 20121 

“……………. Rosalie Bertell, PhD

It was Rosalie who most let me know that I am able to contribute original work towards the day that People, to decide not to split atoms any more. Human beings began splitting atoms in Chicago, in 1942. Rosalie, a PhD in mathematics and member of the Order of Gray Nuns, knew more than anyone else I have worked with, that all of it—every last nuclear license, and radioactive emission, all the waste and all the bombs and all the money congress gives to nuclear activities are choices. People made, and continue to make these decisions…and we can change our mind.

Rosalie studied radiation impacts and was committed to service on behalf of future generations. She won the Right Livelihood award for her work with communities impacted by nuclear industry. Often called the “alternative Peace Prize” – she was one of the first women to be honored. As a laureate, she was encouraged to find and mentor students. Rosalie hoped that I, and my coworker Diane D’Arrigo would go to graduate school and she could be our mentor. We decided since we were already in our 50’s to simply study with her, informally. We traveled, 5 or 6 times to the Mother House where she resided and she generously met with us in the last two years of her life. She was always small in stature, but at that point her back was bent and she barely came up to my chest, but still had the intensity of a wolverine!

It was Rosalie Bertell who helped me tackle one of the biggest challenges I have faced. After a public talk on radioactive waste policy that I gave during this time, a woman asked me if radiation was more harmful to women, to her, compared to a man. Even though I had studied and known many of the top independent radiation researchers, including Bertell, I had never heard that biological sex could be a factor for harm—other than in reproduction (pregnancy)—but that is more about the embryo and fetus than the woman. I told her that I was sorry, I did not know and would get back to her. In fact, I forgot.

Two years later, when nuclear reactors exploded in Japan at a site called Fukushima Daiichi, I remembered that question and knew it urgently needed an answer. I was unaware that Dr Arjun Makhijani and a team had written on sex differences in radiation harm in 2006 (see www.ieer.org ) and also did not turn that up as I searched for any information on differences between males and females. My findings, five years later are an independent confirmation of the IEER work.

Since I found nothing on a basic google dive, I called Rosalie, who was at that point nearing the end of her life, to ask if she had studied biological sex. She had not, and the one report she pointed me to was out of print. It was my second call, a week later, that prompted her to tell me that I would have to look at the data myself.

I had no idea that the National Academy of Science (NAS) had published tables with 60 years of data on cancers and cancer deaths among the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Rosalie told me to find out for myself. I was shocked. I had stopped any formal study of math in the 6th grade…she was a mathematician—I asked her to do it, and she reminded me that she was dying. I protested again. It was her next words that pushed me. Rosalie said, “The data is divided by males and females so you can look at this question—and if there is a difference, it will be a simple pattern. It is good you do not have more math because if there is a difference, you will find it and not make it more complicated than it is.” She said to get a few pencils, a sharpener, an eraser and lots of paper, and go to it. I did.

The result was my first paper on the topic, “Atomic Radiation is More Harmful to Women,” (October 2011) published to the web in time for Rosalie to congratulate me. Three years later the paper was the basis for my invitation to speak at the global Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons. Three years later as the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was in the work, I founded the Gender and Radiation Impact Project. Rosalie is the one who put rocket fuel in my determination to help. If the world decides to base radiation protection on Refence Little Girl—make every regulation in terms of protecting females who are infants—five years old, future generations have a chance. Rosalie is the one who modeled for me that it is possible to reach for the best possible outcome, and, indeed, we have an obligation to do so………..……  https://www.genderandradiation.org/blog/2020/12/31/my-six-mentors