Archive for the ‘personal stories’ Category

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

 

Non violent anti-nuclear action – the Clamshell Alliance model for success

February 18, 2021

Know Your Nonviolent History: In 1976 Clamshell Alliance Launches Mass Demonstrations https://www.riverasun.com/know-your-nonviolent-history-in-1976-clamshell-alliance-launches-mass-demonstrations/August 18, 2016, by Rivera Sun  On August 1st, 1976, the first nonviolent mass demonstration of the Clamshell Alliance took place at the proposed site of the Seabrook Nuclear Energy Facility in New Hampshire. The Clamshell Alliance was a group of anti-nuclear activists who worked to stop nuclear power plant construction at a time when President Nixon’s “Project Independence” had proposed the construction of over 1,000 nuclear power plants throughout the nation. Although the Clamshell Alliance was only partially successful in halting the Seabrook facility, their mass mobilizations deterred the plans for other plants and changed the landscape of nuclear energy forever. If not for the Clamshell Alliance, it is possible that we would be living in the nuclear nightmare of President Nixon’s vision of a thousand plants by the year 2000.

The cover-up of workers’ illnesss in radioactively polluted clean-up of Kingston coal ash spill

December 22, 2020

A Legacy of Contamination, How the Kingston coal ash spill unearthed a nuclear nightmare, Grist By Austyn Gaffney on Dec 15, 2020  This story was published in partnership with the Daily Yonder.

………………………………….The apparent mixing of fossil fuel and nuclear waste streams underscores the long relationship between the Kingston and Oak Ridge facilities………… .

……….In 2017, a former chemist named Dan Nichols stumbled upon a news story that revealed the existence of the additional health problems TVA feared. High levels of uranium had been measured in the urine of a former cleanup worker named Craig Wilkinson. Like Thacker, Wilkinson had worked the night shift. After dredges piped the coal ash back onshore, Wilkinson used heavy equipment to scoop, flip, and dry the wet ash along the Ball Field.

Although Wilkinson worked at the Kingston site for less than a year, he quickly developed health issues, including chronic sinus infections and breathing problems that eventually led to a double-lung transplant. Frustrated by his sudden decline in health, Wilkinson shelled out over $1,000 for a toxicology test because he wanted to know what occupational hazards might be lingering in his body.

After reading Wilkinson’s story, Nichols sat stunned. Though he was not associated with the spill, he’d been unable to shake his obsession with the Kingston disaster. Nichols had worked as a Memphis-based field chemist for a wastewater technology company, and he was used to studying lab reports on industrial water supplies and samples. For years he’d been trying to solve a mystery that no one else seemed to be aware of: why Kingston regulators deleted and then altered a state-sanctioned report showing extremely high levels of radiation at the cleanup site.

Roughly a month after the spill, Nichols read a Duke University press release stating that ash samples collected at Kingston by a team led by Vengosh, the geochemist, showed radium levels well above those typically found in coal ash. Nichols knew that the state environmental regulator, the Tennessee Department for Environment and Conservation, or TDEC, was also testing soil and ash samples at the site. After seeing Vengosh’s high radium readings, he wondered if TDEC’s report would also show high levels of either radium or uranium. (Radium is a decay element of uranium.) Later that spring, Nichols visited TDEC’s website and discovered the test results.

“I opened it up and went to uranium, and it was just off the charts,” Nichols recalled. In a 2020 affidavit, Nichols reported that these levels were “extremely high so as to be alarming.” At least 27 soil and ash samples were collected from at least 20 different sites surrounding Kingston beginning January 6, 2009. The levels ranged from 84 parts per million (ppm) to 2,000 ppm. The average level was over 500 ppm, as much as 50 times the typical uranium content found in coal ash.

The next morning, when Nichols slumped back into his computer chair and refreshed TDEC’s website, he saw that the report had been changed. The high uranium readings had plummeted. Now the average uranium levels in the ash were 2.88 ppm, a tenth of the typical uranium content found in coal ash and illogically, below levels naturally occurring in soil. Luckily, Nichols had downloaded the unaltered report the night before.

A month later, Nichols sent the two lab reports to one of the attorneys representing Tennessee residents affected by the spill in a lawsuit they’d brought against TVA. According to Nichols, the lawyers weren’t interested. Nevertheless, Nichols was determined to find more proof of the unusually high levels of on-site radiation. In between cutting hay and spraying weeds on his family farm, he spent years poring over information online about TVA, coal ash, and uranium before he stumbled across Wilkinson’s story.

Back in 2014, Wilkinson’s urine tested for unusually high levels of both mercury and uranium. The mercury is more easily explained: The most common cause of mercury contamination, according to the EPA, is coal-fired power plant emissions, which account for 44 percent of all man-made mercury pollution. The 2008 spill released 29 times the mercury reported at the Kingston site for the entire decade before it, and TVA documents show high levels of additional legacy mercury were present in the Clinch River and could have migrated into the Emory. Today, Wilkinson has symptoms attributable to methylmercury poisoning including blurry vision, fatigue, a hearing impairment, memory loss, and loss of coordination that caused him to fall out of the machines he operated until retiring on disability in 2015.

But most shocking to Nichols was the high level of uranium in Wilkinson’s body — it was 10 times the U.S. average, and identical to the median levels that one study found in workers exposed to the substance. Prolonged occupational exposure to uranium is strongly linked to chronic kidney disease, which Wilkinson suffers from. Because Wilkinson’s toxicology results were taken four years after he left Kingston, they likely show lower uranium levels than what he and other cleanup workers initially had.

Wilkinson’s results left no doubt in Nichols’ mind that the original uranium readings he’d saved were significant. A reporter for the Knoxville News-Sentinel, Jamie Satterfield, contacted him after the report he saved showed up in court proceedings. Satterfield published a story about the altered uranium readings in May of this year.

In response to her story, TDEC told the News-Sentinel that its updated uranium readings, which plummeted by 98 percent, were due to a change in the sampling method used for the tests. (Satterfield also reported that radium levels had been lowered between the initial TDEC report Nichols downloaded and the updated one; the department attributed this to a “data entry error.”) In an email response to Grist and the Daily Yonder, a TDEC spokesperson elaborated that the sampling lab, which was neither staffed nor supervised by TDEC, “discovered there were interferences in the analysis of soil and ash samples for uranium” and subsequently changed the method of analysis from one EPA-approved protocol to another. The new results were then published without public notice of the alteration.

“Changing lab reports is a very serious thing,” Nichols said. “But I can assure you data entry errors don’t cause a man to test for unusually high levels of uranium. That’s [TDEC’s] big problem.”

Unbeknownst to Nichols, Russell Johnson, the district attorney with jurisdiction over Roane County, where Kingston is located, had informed TDEC’s commissioner in 2017 that he was beginning a criminal probe into the Kingston cleanup. “I am deeply concerned with the apparent intentional conduct of the cleanup contractors and their supervisors, actions that took place in Roane County, conduct that may indeed have caused serious bodily injury or possibly even death to a number of people,” Johnson wrote in a letter to TDEC.

In concert with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Johnson began investigating whether TVA or its contractors “suppressed information” as part of the coverup alleged in the 2013 worker lawsuit against Jacobs. They now have Nichols’ evidence as well. But despite this ongoing investigation, it’s unclear if workers will ever learn for certain whether or not they were exposed to dangerous substances besides the coal ash itself. (Bob Edwards, an assistant district attorney working under Johnson, told Grist and the Daily Yonder that the district attorney’s office could not comment on a pending investigation.)………………….https://grist.org/justice/tva-kingston-coal-ash-spill-nuclear/

Hibakusha renew their push for the abolition of nuclear weapons

November 28, 2020
Atomic bomb survivors’ renewed push for the abolition of nuclear weapons,   https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/1370/   Kita Yusuke
NHK World Correspondent, Yoshida Mayu, NHK World Correspondent, 13 Nov 20,
Today is a big, memorable day for us.”

Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor Abe Shizuko was reacting to the October 24 ratification of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The accord will take effect in January – although none of the world’s nuclear powers are members.

Nevertheless, hibakusha, which is what the atomic bomb survivors are called in Japan, see the treaty as a victory for their cause. “I take pride in the fact that the decision is a result of the united little voices of individual hibakusha,” says 93-year-old Abe.

On August 6th, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb for the first time in human history. Its target was Hiroshima, where 18-year-old Abe was helping to dismantle buildings to prevent the spread of fires caused by air raids during World War Two. Abe was working just 1.5 kilometers away from ground zero. She suffered severe burns on the right side of her body and face, and has been through 18 surgeries.

“The operations were very painful and difficult. There wasn’t enough anesthetic back in those days, so doctors could not give me supplemental relief even if I started feeling pain. I tolerated the pain through a strong hope to restore my body,” Abe recalls.

The bomb left keloid scars on her face and the right side of her body. In photographs from when she was younger, Abe always looks down, or shows only her left side.

A-bomb survivors call the 10-year period following the world’s first atomic bombing “the blank decade.” That is because people who were injured had little to no medical or financial support. At the same time, they were exposed to severe prejudice and discrimination.

Abe says she was once nicknamed “Red Ogre” because of her scars. “My wound did not heal. My body weakened. I was in poverty. Many people stared at me only just to satisfy their curiosity, because they wanted to know what a hibakusha looked like. They did not feel sympathy for me. They bullied me. The suffering that I went through, and the emotional wound, will never go away.”

In 1956, Abe joined other atomic bomb survivors to form a delegation. They traveled to Tokyo to appeal to the then prime minister and government officials to offer relief for victims, and support their call for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Those efforts led to the establishment of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organization.

As the Cold War progressed, the hibakusha became disheartened. Even though they were speaking out about the need to eliminate nuclear weapons, the world was not listening. Nuclear experiments were being carried out repeatedly, and the arms race took off.

“It was really a difficult time for our campaign,” Abe remembers. “We felt as if we were yelling out while trying to survive in rough waves on a dark night.”

Abe carried a grudge against the US, but started to feel a change of heart almost 20 years after the bombing. In 1964, she went to the US and Europe for what was known as the Peace Pilgrimage. It was an opportunity for A-bomb survivors to speak about their personal experiences in front of audiences. Abe stayed at a private home with local hosts in the US, and she was deeply touched by their tender-heartedness.

“They listened attentively to my stories and said to me, ‘It must have been very hard for you. You’ve been through a lot. We’re so sorry for you,'” Abe recalls. “I realized we should never let anyone fall victim to nuclear weapons, regardless of what nationality you are. Americans or anybody.”

The voices of the hibakusha spread to all corners of the world, slowly but steadily.

These days, the average age of hibakusha is more than 83 years old, and there are fewer chances to hear their direct accounts. Some of them, like Taniguchi Sumiteru, played a direct role in the recent ratification of the UN treaty that bans nuclear weapons.

Taniguchi died three years ago, but he put the wheels in motion with a campaign that collected signatures to demand an international convention to ban nuclear weapons. He worked on that until the last moment of his life.

Taniguchi was 16 when he was exposed to the second atomic bomb that the US dropped on Japan. He was working as a postman in Nagasaki. A picture that shows the red burned flesh on his back shocked the world.

He delivered an impassioned speech at the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the UN’s New York headquarters: “Please don’t turn your eyes away from me. Please look at me again. I have survived miraculously, but for me, to ‘live’ was to ‘endure the agony’. Bearing the cursed scars of the atomic bomb all over our bodies, we the hibakusha continue to live in pain.”

“For humans to live as humans, not even one nuclear weapon should be allowed to exist on earth. I cannot die in peace until I witness the last nuclear warhead eliminated from this world,” said Taniguchi.

Hibakusha and their supporters gathered at Nagasaki Peace Park shortly after last month’s treaty ratification to share their joy. Among them was Okuma Yuka, a member of an activist group that calls itself “Hiroshima and Nagasaki Peace Messengers”.

Okuma took part in the signature-collecting campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons after being deeply shocked by the image of a young Taniguchi in the aftermath of the atomic bombing. Her great-grandmother was a hibakusha but didn’t talk much about her experience. The photograph of Taniguchi brought it home to Okuma that suffering had occurred in her own family.

“I believe the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is definitely an important step forward,” Okuma says. “I expect that this will become a good opportunity for us to move toward a world that is completely free of nuclear weapons

The nuclear launch authorizer’s guide to staying calm at election times

November 28, 2020

The nuclear launch authorizer’s guide to staying calm on election night, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists By Matt Field | November 3, 2020  Their thumbs are calloused from refreshing Nate Silver’s twitter feed too many times. Their nerves are frayed from too much time spent figuring out what’s going on in places like Lackawanna County. (I know you know where it is.) Americans are heading into this Election Day full of anxiety and stress. For many, the stakes of today’s contest between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden couldn’t be higher. Anxiety-inducing information will be arriving in social media feeds, on TV screens, and on news websites at a furious pace later today. But it’s important for people to take a moment to breathe, a second to ease their worried minds. Perhaps they might consider a few tips from the annals of nuclear weapons history, insights from times when people, through relatively calm rationality, were able to avert the worst in the highest of high stress situations.

Hiroshima survivor Koko Kondo met the man who dropped that atomic bomb

November 28, 2020

Hiroshima’s atomic bomb changed Koko Kondo’s life, but so did meeting the man who dropped it, ABC News,By Tracey Shelton, 6 August, 20,  Eight-month-old Koko was in her mother’s arms the day the world’s first nuclear weapon was dropped on Hiroshima, bringing their family home crashing down on them on this day 75 years ago.

Key points:

Between 90,000 and 166,000 victims died within months of the Hiroshima bombing
Koko Kondo met pilot Robert Lewis on the set of This is Your Life
More than 150 denshosha volunteers are carrying on the memories of survivors

She was almost 40 years old before her mother finally sat her down and told her the full story of how she had inched through the rubble in darkness, with little Koko wrapped in her arms, towards a small pocket of dusty sunlight.

“She first pushed me out [through the opening], then next, she was able to get out … but the fire was all over the place according to my mother,” said Koko Kondo, who is now 75.

Ms Kondo’s father — Methodist minister Kiyoshi Tanimoto, who was visiting a parishioner across town — said in a US television interview “the whole city was on fire” as he ran through the streets to find his family.

He described people running in silence with skin hanging from their bodies “like a procession of ghosts”

In the sky above, pilot Robert Lewis was part of the United States Air Force crew who dropped the atomic bomb known as Little Boy that day, unleashing around 13 kilotons of force on the city below, where Ms Kondo’s family and about 290,000 other civilians lived, according to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.

Estimates on how many people died from the bomb either instantly or in the following months range between 90,000 and 166,000, but the Little Boy would go on to claim the lives of thousands more as the effects of radiation took their toll.

After looking back to see the once-flourishing city “disappear”, Captain Lewis wrote in his log book “My God, what have we done?”…….

While Ms Kondo said most people avoided speaking of the bombing in the decades that followed, her father made it his mission to help the injured, rebuild the city and ensure the world never forgot.

Her family had suffered from radiation sickness and Ms Kondo was subjected to years of tests and examinations to study the effects of radiation exposure.

One of Ms Kondo’s earliest memories — at around two or three years old — was of a group of teenage girls attending a sermon at her father’s church.

“Some girls could not close their eyes. Some girls — their lips were all melted with their chins so they could not close [their mouths],” she told the ABC.

While her manners did not permit her to ask questions, she would listen to her parents’ conversations and learned that the destruction and pain that surrounded her was caused by a single US B-29 bomber.

Ms Kondo said her childhood became consumed by hatred and thoughts of revenge.

“Someday when I grow up, I am definitely going to find the people who were on that B-29 bomber to do the revenge,” she said.

“That was my plan, that was my thinking. But life is interesting.”

When Koko was 10, her mother and siblings received a phone call from the then popular US television program This is Your Life.

They were immediately flown to the United States for an episode featuring the work of her father, who had taken a group of young survivors to the US for plastic surgery……

As Hiroshima mission pilot Robert Lewis was introduced, Koko glared at him with all the hatred a 10-year-old could muster.

“I was so shocked!” she recalled.

“What could I do? I wanted to run to the middle of the stage and give him a punch, a bite or a kick.”

But as he recalled his memories of that day, she saw tears begin to well in his eyes.

“I thought he was a monster, but monsters don’t have tears.”

Ms Kondo said she realised she had lived her short life full of hate for a man she knew nothing about……..

the life of this man was not easy, she said, and he “suffered greatly” not only with the weight of his involvement in the bombing, but he was also “harassed” for speaking about it publicly.at 75, she is among the youngest of a dwindling number of survivors who can tell the world first hand of the horrors these weapons unleashed……….

“My concern is today nuclear weapons are much, much stronger. We have to abolish them now,” urged Ms Kondo. ….

If these stories were lost, “probably our planet would be gone”, she said.

Doctoral candidate Tomoko Kubota is one of more than 150 denshosha — a designated keeper of the memories of a Hiroshima or Nagasaki survivor.

As a denshosha volunteer, she spent three years training and learning from survivor Sadae Kasaoka, so in the future she can “give testimony” on her behalf by sharing her “experiences, the reality of the atomic bombing, and desires for peace”.

That story includes how, at 12 years of age, Ms Kasaoka lost her mother and watched her father die — within days of the blast — in agony from horrific burns and wounds that became infested with maggots.

For other survivors, the memories were too painful to talk about, Ms Kasaoka said, while discrimination against those who did speak out had silenced many over the years…………. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-06/atomic-bomb-survivors-75-years-after-hiroshima-nuclear-attack/12501636

John Wayne and the movie crew killed by nuclear radiation

February 13, 2020

John Wayne squares off against Jim Hansen, Medium,  Albert Bates, 11 Jan 2020     “……..The famous cowboy actor John Wayne may have been felled by the same foe, as was Marie Curie. From 1951 to 1962 the US Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) detonated more than 100 bombs in the southwestern US desert, sending huge pinkish plumes of radioactive dust across the stony valleys and canyons of southern Utah and northern Arizona. It gave each “shot” names like Annie, Eddie, Humboldt and Badger. Eleven of those tests were part of a series called Upshot-Knothole in Utah in 1953. In 1954, the Upshot-Knothole site was chosen as the location for a John Wayne film called The Conqueror.

The AEC sent a scientist with a Geiger counter to show Wayne that the location was safe enough for him to bring his wife and children to visit the set. The Geiger counter is said to have crackled so loudly Wayne thought it was broken. Waving it over clumps of cactus, rock and sand produced the same loud result. The Duke, by all accounts, shrugged it off. By 1980, 91 out of 220 cast and crew on The Conquerer had contracted cancer and 46 of them, including Wayne and co- stars Dick Powell, Pedro Armendáriz, Agnes Moorehead, and Susan Hayward had died. Those numbers did not include the families of the cast and crew. John Wayne’s wife and two sons all got cancer. While the two sons survived, the daughter of one of Wayne’s sons also died of cancer. Hayward’s son Tim Barker had a benign tumor removed from his mouth. Many of the Native American Paiute extras went on to die of cancer also……..https://medium.com/@albertbates/john-wayne-squares-off-against-jim-hansen-42a258b2260d