deliberately exposed in 1954 to radiation from a bomb twice as powerful as the one dropped on Hiroshima just nine years before. At 9:33 a.m. on 14 September 1954, a Soviet Tu-4 bomber dropped a 40,000-ton atomic weapon from 25,000 feet. The bomb exploded 1,200 feet above Totskoye testing range near the provincial town of Orenburg. Thousands are believed to have died in the immediate aftermath and in the years following. The pilot flying the Tu-4 bomber developed leukemia and his co-pilot developed bone cancer.
Marshal Georgi Zhukov, Stalin's most senior World War II Commander, safely witnessed the blast from an underground nuclear bunker. Moments after the blast, Zhukov ordered 600 tanks, 600 armored personnel carriers and 320 planes to move forward to the epicenter in order to stage a mock battle. The experiment was designed to test the performance of military hardware and soldiers in the event of a nuclear war.
There are no official figures showing how many of the 45,000 people sent to Totskoye testing range died as a result of the test. Tamara Zlotnikova, a former member of the Russian Duma, is helping survivors fight for compensation. She believes that the toll from the test was enormous. According to Zlotnikova, "Even today, the incidence of some cancers in Orenburg, a city 130 miles from the range, is double that of the people who suffered in Chernobyl. A study carried out by the health ministry on cities with the worst health problems puts Orenburg second out of 88. Thousands died. These people were used as guinea pigs, tested, and then left to die slowly of cancer. The state does not want their tragedy recognized, because it would cost money. Nobody wants to know."
(source: The Sunday Times (UK), 24 June 2001)
Babies and Stillborns Used in Nuclear Experiments
British newspapers reported that some 6,000 stillborn babies and dead infants were sent from hospitals in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, South America, the UK and the US between the 1950s and 1970s without the permission of parents for use in nuclear experiments. According to the reports, the US Department of Energy used the bodies and some body parts for tests to monitor radioactivity levels of the element Strotium 90 in humans. University of Chicago physician Willard Libby started "Project Sunshine" in 1955, appealing for bodies, preferably stillborn or newly-born babies, to test the impact of an atomic bomb fallout. Libby later received a Nobel prize for his research in carbon dating.
In response to the reports, the Australian government launched an investigation into the claims on 5 June. The Observer, a British newspaper, also stated that British scientists also conducted tests on babies sent from Hong Kong and the research did not end until the 1970s. A government spokesman for Hong Kong announced that his country will investigate further into the reports.
(source: Reuters, 6 June 2001)
Doctor Claims Disabled People Used as Human Guinea Pigs in Nuclear Experiments
Suspicions that people with sever disabilities were used as human guinea pigs during British nuclear tests at the Maralinga Test Site in Australia in the 1950s were revived in June. According to the allegations, a control group was flown to the British test site as part of an experiment on the effects of radiation on humans. The group died after being exposed to the radioactive fallout.
The allegations were dismissed as unsubstantiated in a final report of a royal commission into British nuclear tests in Australia in December 1985. However, Dr. Robert Jackson, Director of the Center for Disability Research and Development at Edith Cowan University in Australia, is concerned that the Royal Commission did not hear testimonials from pilots. Dr. Jackson first discovered the story in the 1980s when he was the Regional Director for the Western Australia Disability Commission. In June, he was approached by a man who claimed to be a pilot and had flown a planeload of disabled people from the UK to Maralinga Test Site. The pilot told Dr. Jackson, "We didn't fly them out again." Former servicemen, who are also fighting for compensation for radiation exposure at the Britsh nuclear tests in South Australia and Monte Bello islands, will further investigate the story.
(source: Western Australian Newspapers Limited, 12 June 2001)
UK Admits Soldiers Used in Radiation Experiments
The UK Ministry of Defense admitted on 12 May that it exposed British, Australian and New Zealand servicemen to radiation in tests during the 1950s and 1960s. A spokesperson for the Ministry denied that the soldiers were used as guinea pigs, stating that each man gave his consent to participate. The experiments tested the effectiveness of protective clothing during radiation experiments. According to the Ministry of Defense, officers were ordered to walk, run and crawl through contaminated nuclear tests sites at Monte Bello Island and Maralinga to determine what types of clothing would give best protection against radioactive contamination. Both the Australian and New Zealand governments are demanding a full inquiry into the experiments and have announced that they will examine links between illnesses suffered by servicemen and exposure to radiation.
The UK detonated 12 atomic bombs in Australia between 1952 and 1957. In 1997, the UK claimed in the European Court of Human Rights that humans were never used as experimental subjects during nuclear weapons tests. The official documents, recently uncovered by a researcher at Dundee University in Scotland, forced the British government to admit that officers were deliberately sent into the nuclear fallout zone.
(sources: AP, 14 May 2001; New Zealand Herald, 14 May 2001; Reuters, 12 May 2001)
Australian Government Confirms Depleted Uranium Used in 1950s
The Australian Federal Government announced that it will conduct a health study of Australian volunteers who worked at Maralinga, a British nuclear test site. Although previously thought to be used for the first time during the Gulf War, the Australian government confirmed on 28 May that more than eight tons of depleted uranium was blasted into the air during nuclear tests at the site in the 1950s. The government is preparing a study of those who may have been affected, including soldiers, and Aboriginal and civilian populations in the area at the time of testing. The findings of the study will determine eligibility for compensation under military or safety stipulations.
An Australian royal commission first discovered the use of depleted uranium in atomic tests at Maralinga some 14 years ago, but the government failed to take any action at the time.
(source: AAP, 28 May 2001)
US Navy Resumes Bombing of Vieques
After a US federal judge ruled on 26 April that the US Navy could resume military exercises, thousands of protesters, including environmentalists and citizens, mobilized to stop the bombing of Vieques Island in Puerto Rico. A spokesman for the Puerto Rican government said that some ten protesters, including Damaso Serrano, Mayor of Vieques, and Norma Burgos, a Puerto Rican Senator, were hiding on Navy property as human shields to prevent the resumption of bombing. Those who entered the Navy's security zone risked arrest and up to ten years in prison. To date, more than 140 people have been arrested for entering the range in hopes of stopping the exercises.
International attention to the issue of the US Navy's exploitation of the island came two years ago after the death of a civilian security guard during a botched bombing. After the incident, the Navy switched to firing "unarmed" shells. The US has used the 33,000-acre island of Vieques as a bombing range for some 60 years. Puerto Rico filed suit during the week of 22 April against the Navy in attempts to halt the exercises siting that shelling the island was a health risk to 9,000 residents of Vieques. The suit will force Navy compliance with a new law that would block ship-to-shore shelling by setting a maximum noise level of 190 decibals, a level exceeded during the Navy's exercises in Vieques.
Navy officials confirmed that exercises involving 500-pound bombs resumed on 27 April. The Department of Defense announced that it will "continue to examine alternative approaches to training that would permit it to reduce the need for Vieques to the absolute minimum necessary beyond May 2003."
(sources: AP, 27 April 2001; Reuters, 27 April 2001; DoD press release, 27 April 2001)
Military Colonialists Strike Again
Some 30 years ago, residents of Diego Garcia Island, a British territory in the Indian Ocean, were evicted from their homes to make way for a US base. Most of the evicted islanders were moved to Mauritius, and it is estimated that between 400-4,000 may want to return. In November 2000, the British High Court called "wholesale removal of the islanders" in 1971 an "abject legal failure" and ruled that the islanders were free to return to their homes. During the trial, previously classified UK and US documents emerged demonstrating that the governments cheated the islanders out of their homes and lied about it for years to Parliament and Congress.
The US now concedes that it cannot prevent the islanders from returning to the neighboring islands of Peros Banhos and Salomon, but it will not allow them on Diego Garcia. Furthermore, the US has only offered a few jobs to the islanders on Diego Garcia and is denying them the use of the landing strip. Building an airstrip on another island would cost between $75-$150 million, but without an airstrip, life on the islands would be difficult. The islanders are suing the US government for $6 billion in compensation. They are also demanding British citizenship for the 7,818 islanders and direct descendants currently living in Mauritius. The British Foreign Office is currently investigating whether Peros Banhos and Salomon are livable and is carrying out further studies on fresh water supplies.
(source: The Guardian, 9 November 2000, 13 December 2000, 6 April 2001)
Have you ever wondered what would be safe to eat or drink in the case of a nuclear explosion? From February to May 1955, the US government conducted experiments at the Nevada Proving Grounds on the "civil effects" of nuclear explosions. The experiments were called "Operation Teapot" and included Project 32.2 to determine the effects of nuclear explosions on commercially packaged beverages, such as soda and beer. In the experiments, cans of soft drinks and beer were placed in various locations near ground zero of a nuclear explosion to determine the physical effects and induced radioactivity on the beverages. The study concluded that induced radioactivity in commercially packaged soft drinks and beer cans was not great even when they were close to ground zero of the explosions and therefore these sources could be used as potable water sources for immediate emergency purposes after a nuclear explosion. The report states:
Representative samples of the various exposed packaged beers, as well as unexposed control samples in both cans and bottles, were submitted to five qualified laboratories for carefully controlled taste testing. The cumulative opinions on the various beers indicated a range from ' commercial quality' on through 'aged' to 'definitely off.' All agreed, however, that the beer could definitely be used as an emergency source of potable beverages. Obviously, if a large storage of such packaged beers was to be trapped in a zone of such intense radiation following a nuclear explosion, ultimate usage of the beverages beyond the emergency use would likely be subject to review of the taste before return to commercial distribution.
Such experiments demonstrate how little those developing nuclear technologies knew about the effects nuclear testing and production would have on human health and the environment. The full report of "Operation Teapot," issued on January 24, 1957, was obtained by TheSmokingGun.com through the Freedom of Information Act.
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