- November 3rd, 2011
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National Day of Remembrance ceremony at Colorado State Capital The National Day of Remembrance on America’s Nuclear Workers. Footage from The Denver Post.
National Day of Remembrance ceremony at Colorado State Capital The National Day of Remembrance on America’s Nuclear Workers. Footage from The Denver Post.
Sunday, October 30, 2011 is National Day of Remembrance for all nuclear workers nationwide. The Rocky Flats workers will be meeting on the west steps of the State Capital building at noon, in Denver, Colorado.
The Day of Remembrance honors the scores of men and women who supported the nation’s nuclear efforts during the Cold War.
Mark Udall (D-Colorado)joined U.S. senators Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico), Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) in announcing Senate passage of S. Res. 275.
“After World War II, hundreds of thousands of Americans went to work to build our nation’s nuclear arsenal and help us win the Cold War, and many were exposed to dangerous substances on the job, often without their knowledge. Among them were thousands of Coloradans who worked at the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site. I’ll continue fighting to get them the compensation they deserve, and I’m proud to recognize and thank them for their sacrifices.” Mark Udall
The bipartisan resolution unanimously passed the Senate on September 26, 2011. Yes, there can be bipartisan in Washington after all.
Mark Udall’s Website
After nearly a three year moratorium on nuclear testing between the USA and the USSR, the Soviet Union broke the moratorium on September 1, 1961 by detonating a 16 kiloton bomb at their Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan.
The Soviets conducted 59 tests between September 1 and November 4, 1961, totaling 95.7 megatons of yield, 94.7 megatons coming from atmospheric tests. On October 30, the Tsar Bomba was tested at the Novaya Zemlya, Mityushikha Bay Test Site, and would be the largest nuclear device ever detonated, coming in at 57 Megatons. (There are three different yields I have read about; 50, 57, and 58 Megatons.) The weapon was originally designed to be 100 megaton. (1)
The US responded with a series of underground tests at the Nevada Test Site, Operation Nougat, which ran from September 15, 1961 thru June 30, 1962. This series of tests included the first joint US/United Kingdom test on March 2, 1962 (Shot Pampas). All 24 of Britain’s underground tests were conducted at the Nevada Test Site, concluding on November 26, 1991. (2)
From August 1 thru December 25, 1962, the Soviet Union conducted 80 tests, with a total yield of 141.5 Megatons, all but 15 kilotons being atmospheric. 18 of these tests were in the megaton range, with 4 of them larger than the United States largest test (Castle Bravo, 15 Megatons, March 1, 1954). Yields were 19, 20, 21, and 24 Megatons.
Between September 1, 1961 and December 25, 1962 the Soviets tested 136 weapons, 220.2 megatons of yield, which is 78% of their total yield. (3)
Operation Dominic/Fishbowl was conducted by the United States from April 25-November 4, 1962 off the islands of Johnston and Christmas (Kiritimati) in the South Pacific. (See my “The Marshall Islands and the Other Pacific Tests Sites” Blog, April 21, 2011)
A majority of the Cuban Missile Crisis (4) is considered to have happened between October 15 thru Oct. 29, 1962, when on Monday, October 15, a U-2 reconnaissance plane revealed the presence of Soviet SS-4 missiles in Cuba. (5)
However, the quarantine against Cuba wasn’t terminated by President Kennedy until November 21. So between October 15 and November 21, 1962, the Soviet Union conducted 23 atmospheric tests, three of them being rocket tests. The United States conducted 11 tests out at Johnston Island. 7 of these were rocket tests, with 4 of them failing.
The last 7 tests of Operation Dominic/Fishbowl were:
10/18-Chama, B-52 Air drop, 1.5 Mt (Dominic 1)
10/20- Checkmate, Missile Airburst, 483,000ft 7kt (Fishbowl)
10/26-Bluegill Triple Prime, missile 160,000 ft 400 kt (FB)
10/27- Calamity, B-52 Airdrop, 11,800 ft, 800 kt (Dominic 1)
10/30-Housatonic, Airdrop 12,000ft, 8.3 Mt (Dominic 1)
11/01- Kingfish, Missile Airburst, 320,000ft 400kt (Fishbowl)
11/04- Tightrope, Missile Airburst, 69,000 ft 0-20kt
One reason that the US was conducting these tests at that time was that The Bluegill Prime rocket test on July 25 at Johnson Island was destroyed on the launch pad, contaminating the launch pad and surrounding area with burning plutonium, and caused a three month delay in the operation. (6)
What would end the Cuban Missile Crisis is the backdoor deal that was made in which the Soviets would remove their missiles from Cuba, the United States would not invade Cuba, and would remove its Jupiter missiles from Turkey (which were obsolete anyway). (7)
Throughout the remainder of the Cold War, the US deployment of tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe and other NATO (8) nations would peak at 7,300 in 1971. (9)
The current inventory for US tactical nuclear weapons in Turkey is 60-70 B61 bombs at Incirlik Air Base. (10)
(1) Big Ivan, The Tsar Bomba (“King of Bombs”)
This site also includes videos from the test.
Universal Newsreels, 10/19/61-US Protests USSR 50 Megaton Test
(2) Joint US/UK Tests
(3) Database of Soviet Tests, Johnston’s Archives
(4) Internet Archives
10/22/62-The Red Threat. President Orders Cuban Blockade
10/25/62-The Cuban Crisis
(5) The Soviet SS-4 Ballistic Missile
(6) Declassified film #65, Joint Task Force 8, Operation Dominic
This clip will give you a look at the Bluegill Prime test that was destroyed on the launch pad:
(7) Location of Jupiter Missiles in Turkey
Redstone, Jupiter Missiles
(8) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
What is NATO?
(9) Where They Were, by Robert S. Norris, William M. Arkin & William Burr
(10) US Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Europe, 2011, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 12/22/10
Other Links about the Cuban Missile Crisis:
National Security Archive, The Cuban Missile Crisis
Soviet Deception in the Cuban Missile Crisis
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) (1) announced today that the last of the B53 nuclear bombs has been dismantled at the Pantex Plant, outside Amarillo, Texas.
“The dismantlement process includes four steps: retiring a weapon from active or inactive service; returning and staging it at NNSA’s Pantex Plant; taking it apart by physically separating the high explosives from the special nuclear material; and processing the material and components, which includes evaluation, reuse, demilitarization, sanitization, recycling and ultimate disposal.” (2)
The B53, (or the Mk-53, according to the Nuclear Weapons Archives) was manufactured between August, 1962 and June, 1965. The early models were retired beginning in 1967, with 50 remaining in permanent stockpile until 1997.
What the article doesn’t state is that there were 350 of these weapons produced, each with the capacity of 9 Megatons each. (3)
“All current nuclear bombs are designated either “B” or “W” followed by a number. Gravity bombs are designated with a “B.” In the 1940s and 1950s, nuclear warheads were assigned “Mark” (Mk) numbers, which were used interchangeably with the designations B and W. Other designations include: “TN” (thermonuclear), “TX” (experimental but cancelled warheads), “EC” for emergency capability, “S” for some atomic artillery shells, “ER” for enhanced radiation (neutron bomb), and “EP” for earth penetrator.”
Total warhead production between 1945 and 1990 stands at 70,299, Table 1-3 Atomic Audit, Brookings Institute (4)
Current United States Stockpile as of May 3, 2010: 5115 (5)
End Part One
(1) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
(2) NNSA Announces Dismantlement of Last B53 Nuclear Bomb-10/25/2011
B53 Fact Sheet
(3) Nuclear Weapons Archives
(4) Atomic Audit The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940
(5) U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2010
First off, I have discovered that a lot of the links I have been posting from the The Mainichi Daily News about the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster are ineffective after a certain length of time, and I apologize for that. I will be more selective of my links in the future.
The International Atomic Energy Agency hasn’t posted an update since June 2, and the only news that is being released from them is through their “Daily Press Release.” (1) I find it strange that they stopped their Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update shortly after it was announced by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) that the power plant had indeed suffered a meltdown at three of the reactors (May 12, 2011).
After reading about the requested documents from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, which TEPCO blacked out about 99 percent of the information, there is no doubt that the disaster is much worse than being released to the public. Government and corporations, they only tell you what they want to.
I have gathered a number of other sites that are covering this topic as well, and have them listed below for you. One that I find very informative is “Greg Landen’s Blog, Japan Nuclear Disaster Update (Ana’s Feed).” I find his other topics to be very enjoyable reading. Check it out. (4)
(1) IAEA Daily Press Review
(3) Other Websites to Check Out
Beyond Nuclear Website
Japan Atomic Energy Agency
Nuclear Free Planet.Org
TEPCO Press Releases
A Pro-Nuclear advocate, Rod Adams “Atomic Insight” Website
(4) Greg Landen’s Blog; Japan Disaster Update (Ana’s Feed)
More Articles of Interest
Japan ‘scared’ of telling truth to Fukushima evacuees
Strontium found at city near Tokyo after Fukushima disaster
Fukushima’s Contamination Produces Some Surprises at Sea
Bloomberg, September 27, 2011
What’s going on at Japan’s crippled nuclear power plant?
Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP)
October 5, 2011
Before the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was abolished in 1974, it established the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP), to “evaluate radioactive contamination at sites where work was performed to develop the nation’s nuclear weapons and early atomic energy program.” (1)
After studying the 501 “Considered Sites” I noticed that some of these locations were used for uranium and other radioactive material processing for the AEC in the 1940’s and 1950’s, but were not cleaned up for another 35 years, while other sites are still being cleaned up to this date. (2)
How many people have worked or lived in these buildings or areas that were contaminated and are not aware of the possible health impacts from this contamination caused by past activities? How much radioactive contamination is at these sites, and has been allowed to just remain there? Some questions can never be answered.
Under the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 (3), the Atomic Energy Commission and was split into two agencies; the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA), and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The Energy Research and Development Administration responsibility was for managing energy research and development, nuclear weapons, and the naval reactor programs. This short-lived administration was dissolved in 1977, and was transferred into the Department of Energy (DOE), under the Department of Energy Organization Act of 1977. (4)
There are 501 sites that were considered under the FUSRAP program, and 46 sites have required remediation. Some of the remaining sites were referred to:
Other sites were eliminated from the FUSRAP program for the following reasons:
In 1997, the DOE had 25 sites remediated, and responsibility for cleaning up the FUSRAP sites was transferred to the Army Corps of Engineers. (6)
Under the Army Corps of Engineer, a site is transferred to the Department of Energy’s Legacy Management office after two years once the site has been deemed remediated. As of May 23, 2011, 29 sites have been “cleaned up”, and are under the Department of Energy’s Legacy Management’s “Long-Term Surveillance and Maintenance of Remediated FUSRAP Sites.”(7)
For a complete list of all the sites that The Office of Legacy Management manages, check out this link:
Let me give you an example of one of these sites that is in Chicago. This location is known as “Chicago North Site” under FUSRAP. The following listing is from the Office of Health, Safety and Security list of covered facilities for the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICP). There are 24 FUSRAP sites that are part of this program.
National Guard Armory
AKA Washington Park Armory
AWE 1942-1951; Residual Radiation 1952-1986; DOE 1987 (remediation)
Atomic Weapons Employer, Department of Energy
“Facility Description: In the 1940s, the Manhattan Project leased the National Guard Armory from the State of Illinois for uranium processing and radioactive material storage. In 1951, the site was returned to the State of Illinois. Although this site was designated as part of the Formerly Utilized Site Remediation Action Program (FUSRAP) in 1985, the only year in which remediation work took place was 1987.
During the period of residual contamination, as designated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and as noted in the dates above, employees of subsequent owners and operators of this facility are also covered under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act.”
You will notice that the last paragraph mentions “residual contamination.” There are 96 facilities under the EEOICPA that make this statement.
And the list goes on and on.
(1) Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program
(2) Office of Legacy Management Considered Sites
(3) Energy Reorganization Act of 1974
(4) Department of Energy Organization Act of 1977
(5) RCRA Statute, Regulations & Enforcement (EPA)
USACE-St. Louis District
USACE-New York District
(7) Long-Term Surveillance and Maintenance of Remediated FUSRAP Sites
Several other links of interest:
LM and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sites
Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP)
September 19, 2011
This question was asked on a Facebook post (thank you Bryce), and I would like to explain it to you.
The opening paragraph from “About the Film” sums it up: American Massacre – A Documentary Film exposes the unthinkable truth behind America’s race to win nuclear superiority. It is a frightening tale of our government’s willingness to sacrifice its own citizens in the name of science and national defense. American Massacre examines the heart-breaking human toll.
There are three motivations that we have for making this film:
It is the goal of American Massacre to bring to light the overwhelming impact that the nuclear industry has had on our nation since its inception 70 years ago, and to bring about justice for those that have been affected by its product.
Between 1945 and 1962, the United States conducted over 200 atmospheric nuclear weapons tests, at the Pacific Proving Grounds, the Nevada Test Site, and in the South Atlantic.
This careless undertaking by the government brought about numerous class action lawsuits alleging exposure to known radiation hazards. As a partial restitution to individuals who developed one or more of 27 medical conditions, the United States Congress enacted the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act in 1990. (1)
This Act was designed to compensate those who lived or worked in the path of the radioactive fallout (Downwinders), Uranium Miners and Ore Haulers who worked in the industry throughout 11 Midwest and Western states up to 1971, and those who were On-Site Participants during these atmospheric tests, including US service personnel, who were ordered to participate in “Atomic Warfare Simulations” in the 1950’s at the Nevada Test Site.
The weapons development and testing continued until 1992, and it wasn’t until the year 2000 that the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program was signed into law. (2)
This law would allow those who worked at any of the 366 listed facilities across the United States for the Department of Energy to seek compensation from illnesses contracted through no fault of their own. (3)
The following is from Executive Order 13179 of December 7, 2000, signed by President Bill Clinton: (4)
“Thousands of these courageous Americans, however, paid a high price for their service, developing disabling or fatal illnesses as a result of exposure to beryllium, ionizing radiation, and other hazards unique to nuclear weapons production and testing. Too often, these workers were neither adequately protected from, nor informed of, the occupational hazards to which they were exposed.”
However, the burden of proof has been placed upon these hard-working individuals, and the task for collecting records, in some cases, has been next to impossible. Numerous contractors have kept inadequate, incomplete, and unreliable radiation dose exposure records, or have simply denied that people worked there.
“The Federal Government should provide necessary information and otherwise help employees of the DOE or its contractors determine if their illnesses are associated with conditions of their nuclear weapons-related work.”
The system used for the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program has numerous and significant flaws. One example is that claims for this program are sent to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) (5), for a Radiation Dose Reconstruction, which uses the same incomplete records that the contractors kept.
Our government is “spending billions to save thousands” from giving these workers the compensation they are owed. (Quoted by a worker at the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant.)
Some of the people we will be interviewing are workers from areas in the following list, which is from the Department of Energy’s “Linking Legacies” publication, 1997, Appendix B: (6)
The Eight Major Processes of the Nuclear Weapons Complex
1) Mining, milling, and refining of uranium
2) Isotope separation of uranium, lithium, boron and heavy water
3) Fuel and target fabrication for production reactors
4) Reactor operations to irradiate fuel and targets to produce nuclear materials
5) Chemical separations of plutonium, uranium, and tritium from irradiated fuel and target elements
6) Component fabrication of both nuclear and nonnuclear components
7) Weapon operations, including assembly, maintenance, modification, and dismantlement of nuclear weapons
8) Research, development, and testing
These interviewees will represent hundreds of thousands of workers.
The other areas we will be covering are the environmental, economical, and the medical impact this has had on America.
As far as the nuclear energy industry goes, yes, our nation needs alternative energy sources to cut down on our dependence of foreign oil (that’s what I have been hearing for most of my life.) Yes, there are other alternative sources that can be used that are safer AT THIS TIME IN HISTORY.
As with any new industry (nuclear power has been around since the 1950’s), there is a need for research and development. And there needs to be a way to make this source of energy safer for the environment and for us. The research needs to focus on ways of making nuclear energy more efficient with less spent fuel and related hazardous waste. However, spent fuel is just the end line of a process that involves the first three steps listed above, and all of these have numerous steps in themselves.
We will be offering both sides the chance to tell their story, if they choose to do so. Our film will be compelling and comprehensive in a way that no other film that has focused on this topic has been. American Massacre connects the dots… from the extraction of the uranium to its final use, there are lives attached to every step from all across this nation. American Massacre will also be an educational and historical for future generations. Most of all, American Massacre will present no account or record or personal tale that has not been verified as fact. This is not a “theory,” American Massacre is dedicated to the truth and to justice.
What exactly is the American Massacre? Hundreds of thousands of us that have had part of our lives ripped away from us, our health destroyed by this industry’s products, watched family members die from expose to it, and having to deal with our government’s bureaucratic “red tape” that is stacked up way too high.
Our sincere hope is that this film will help these “Cold War Patriots”, the veterans, and their families that have been forgotten about. There’s got to be a better way, and I hope we can help find it.
This is a message for you, for our children, and for the generations to come.
John A. Pointer
(1) Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990
(2) The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program
(3) The Office of Health, Safety and Security, Facilities List
(4) Executive Order 13179 of December 7, 2000
(5) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
(6) Linking Legacies, January, 1997
(7) Current Inventory of Depleted Uranium
Other Department of Energy publication
Closing the Circle on the Splitting of the Atom
Environmental Management, Taking Stock, 1995
The Eight Major Processes of the Nuclear Weapons Complex
#1-Uranium Mining, Milling, and Refining
Mining: Open pit, underground, In-Situ solution mining.
Milling: The physical and chemical processing of the ore to isolate uranium concentrate, or “yellowcake.”
Refining: The chemical processing to change concentrate into feed material suitable for further processing.
Isotope Separation, also commonly known as “enrichment,” is the process of concentrating one or more isotopes of the same element. Three elements that have been isotopically separated in large quantities in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex are uranium, lithium, and hydrogen.
The enrichment and extraction of the Uranium-235 isotope from natural Uranium (U-238) is because it is the one isotope that can sustain a fission chain reaction. The remaining U-238 is called Depleted Uranium, and is used by our military for armor plating and armor-piercing projectiles.
Five to ten kilograms of depleted uranium (DU) are produced for every kilogram of low-enriched uranium and up to 200 kilograms of DU are produced for every kilogram of highly enriched uranium. Currently, over ninety-five percent (556,510 metric tons) of the total MIN DU inventory is solid uranium hexafluoride (UF6) stored at the three gaseous diffusion plants located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Paducah, Kentucky; and Portsmouth, Ohio.” A metric ton is equal to 2,404 pounds. So there is roughly 1,337,850,000 pounds of Depleted Uranium at these sites. (7)
#3-Fuel and Target Fabrication
Fuel and target fabrication consists of the foundry and machine shop operations necessary for the conversion of uranium feed material into the fuel and target elements used in nuclear materials production reactors. Included are the casting, extrusion, alloying, plating, cladding, machining, etching, cleaning, degreasing, and grinding to produce the finished elements.
Reactor operations include fuel and target loading and removal, reactor maintenance and modification, and the control and cooling of the reactor as it operates. Large production reactors provide the neutrons needed to produce nuclear materials in large quantities. Smaller reactors are used to test materials and perform experiments. Operating a nuclear reactor creates highly radioactive materials—spent nuclear fuel and irradiated targets. The structures of the reactor core and the reactor coolant also become radioactive. Most of the radioactivity in the DOE weapons complex was created in production reactors.
Chemical separation is the process of chemically separating and purifying plutonium, uranium and other nuclear materials from irradiated reactor fuel and targets, and converting the materials to usable forms. The process includes: physical disassembly and chemical dissolution of irradiated items; separation of uranium, plutonium and fission products; decontamination or purification; volume reduction or concentration; and isolation. Operations considered as first stage finishing processes are also included, e.g. the precipitations of heavy metal nitrate solution mixtures, hydro-fluorination, and metal reduction.
Chemical separation of spent fuel and target elements produces large volumes of highly-radioactive, high-level waste (HLW), low-level waste (LLW) and mixed low-level waste (MLLW). Chemical separation of plutonium and other transuranic isotopes also results in transuranic waste (TRUW). Contaminated environmental media and facilities from chemical separations of irradiated reactor materials pose unusual and severe restoration problems.
#6-Weapons Component Fabrication
Weapons component fabrication includes the manufacturing, assembly, inspection, local testing, and verification of specialized parts and major weapon components. Chemical processing to recover, purify, and recycle plutonium, tritium, and lithium from retired warheads, and from component production scrap and residues, are included in this category, as are maintenance, recharging, and dismantlement of individual components.
Nuclear weapons components can generally be categorized as either nuclear or nonnuclear. They range from small parts to separately functioning subsystems of weapons. Nuclear components are located in the primary stage of the weapon, the secondary stage, and in other systems designed to boost nuclear performance. Nuclear components in the primary stage are located in the “pit.” The nuclear components contain plutonium, highly enriched and/or depleted uranium, lithium-6, deuterium, tritium, and various other, structural parts.
Weapons Operations include assembly, maintenance, modification and dismantlement of nuclear weapons stockpile warheads. Assembly is the final process of joining together separately manufactured components and major parts into complete, functional and certified nuclear weapon warheads for delivery to the Department of Defense (DOD). Dismantlement of retired warheads includes disassembly of weapons and the sanitization, demilitarization and disposition of their component parts. Warhead modifications and maintenance by DOE are also included in this category, although field maintenance by DOD is not.
#8-Research, Development, and Testing
Weapons Research and Development (R&D) is conducted by DOE national weapon laboratories and test sites whose primary mission is to support the nuclear weapons program. This includes basic and applied research with weapon applications and the design and testing of nuclear weapons systems. Weapons-related research has also been conducted by most of the DOE’s multi-program laboratories.
Testing includes the preparation and instrumentation of the test site and device, the placement and detonation of the device, and the post-detonation analysis and cleanup. It also includes nonnuclear tests of weapon ballistics and other aspects of the military utilization of nuclear weapons. Tests which produced only small nuclear yields (“safety experiments”) which intentionally did not produce a nuclear explosive yield, are also included in this category. Nuclear testing has resulted in large areas of contaminated soil and other environmental media, some areas being highly contaminated.
URANIUM MILL TAILINGS RADIATION CONTROL ACT (UMTRCA)
During the 1950’s, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), launched the “first federally-sponsored mineral rush in US history.”(1) The call was for uranium deposits that were suitable for use in the nuclear weapons buildup, and later for the nuclear energy field. The majority of the mining occurred in the Four Corners region of the United States (Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah).
After the AEC had acquired enough uranium ore in reserve, the uranium boom came to a stop in the 1960’s. The aftermath resulted in thousands of abandoned mines left across the western half of the United States. “Although there are about 4,000 mines with documented production, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified 15,000 mine locations with uranium occurrence in 14 western states.”(2)
The Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 covers cleanup for disposal and processing sites. The following is from the act: “The Congress finds that uranium mill tailings located at active and inactive mill operations may pose a potential and significant radiation health hazard to the public, and that the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare and the regulation of interstate commerce require that every reasonable effort be made to provide for the stabilization, disposal, and control in a safe and environmentally sound manner of such tailings in order to prevent or minimize radon diffusion into the environment and to prevent or minimize other environmental hazards from such tailings.” (3)
Title 1 of this act “established a joint Federal/State-funded program for remedial action at abandoned mill tailings sites where tailings resulted largely from production of uranium for the weapons program.” Title II of the act is directed toward uranium mill sites licensed by the NRC or Agreement States in or after 1978. (4)
Of the 86 sites that are currently under the Department of Energy’s Legacy Management, 22 sites fall under the UMTRCA Title 1, and 27 sites under Title II in 10 states: Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Oregon, Texas, Arizona, Idaho, Washington and Pennsylvania.
(1)History of Uranium Mining in Utah
(2)Abandoned Uranium Mines in the United States:
(3) URANIUM MILL TAILINGS RADIATION CONTROL ACT OF 1978
( Starts on Page 497)
Title 1 Program (NRC)
(4)Fact Sheet on Uranium Mill Tailings (NRC)
(5) Office of Legacy Management Sites
Other Websites of Interest
Uranium Mill Tailings Remediation Performed by the US DOE: An Overview
World Information Service on Energy (WISE)
Uranium Mining and Milling
EPA and Radiation Protection
Uranium Mining Wastes
Figure 2.1. Mines and Other Locations with Uranium in the Western U.S.
Thousands of uranium mine sites are scattered over wide areas of the western United States.
This map shows locations provided in the MAS/MILS database.
Figure 2.7. Generalized Uranium Mill Physical Layout
This figure shows how a uranium mill is physically set up to crush raw ore into particles amenable to chemical treatments for extracting uranium.
Source: U.S. DOE/EIA
August 29, 1949
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), successfully tested their first atomic weapon, called Pervaya Molniya (First Lighting) with a yield of 22 kilotons at the Semipalatinsk Test Site in northeast Kazakhstan.(I) The test was not reported to the American people until September 23, 1949 by President Harry S. Truman.(II)
This test brought an end to the United States monopoly on atomic weapons, and would be the start of the nuclear weapons buildup that would last for the next 37 years. At the time of the Soviets first test, the United States had 170 weapons in stock pile, and the production would reach 17 warheads a day between 1959 and 1960, with our peak stockpile reaching 31,225 in 1967. The Soviet stockpile would peak at 45,000 warheads in 1986, when they were cranking out almost 16 warheads a day between 1985 and 1986.(III) 1986 was also the year that the world stockpile would reach its peak at 69,368 warheads.
The need for better detection systems of nuclear tests by the Soviet Union was evident, and would lead to tests like the “Green Run” at the Hanford Site on December 3, 1949: (See my December 2, 2010 blog).
This would also lead the push for development of the Hydrogen or “Super” bomb by the United States, which had been investigated since the Manhattan Project. This effort was led by Edward Teller, a theoretical scientist from Los Alamos Laboratory and the Atomic Energy Commissioner, Lewis Strauss.
“Commissioner Strauss made his views very clear in a letter to President Truman on November 25th.”I believe that the United States must be as completely armed as any possible enemy. From this, it follows that I believe it unwise to renounce, unilaterally, any weapon which an enemy can reasonably be expected to possess. I recommend that the President direct the Atomic Energy Commission to proceed with the development of the thermonuclear bomb…” (IV)
The General Advisory Committee to the Atomic Energy Commission, led by Chairman J. Robert Oppenheimer, met on October 29 and 30, 1949, to discuss, among other topics, the development of the Hydrogen bomb. The following are a few quotes from the Committee’s report:
“It is clear that the use of this weapon would bring about the destruction of innumerable human lives; it is not a weapon which can be used exclusively for the destruction of material installations of military or semi-military purposes. Its use therefore carries much further than the atomic bomb itself the policy of exterminating civilian populations.”
“Therefore, a super bomb might become a weapon of genocide.”
“Any postwar situation resulting from such a weapon would leave unresolvable enmities for generations. A desirable peace cannot come from such an inhuman application of force. The postwar problems would dwarf the problems which confront us at present.”
“For these reasons we believe it important for the President of the United States to tell the American public, and the world, that we think it wrong on fundamental ethical principles to initiate a program of development of such a weapon.”
“Furthermore, we have our possession, in our stockpile of atomic bombs, the means for adequate “military” retaliation for the production or use of a “super.” (V)
“On January 31, 1950, Truman announces that he has approved the AEC to further work on the “Super” or “Hydrogen” bomb. On March 10, 1950 Truman privately ordered the AEC to expand facilities in preparation for the production of the H-bomb.” A huge part of the 1950’s build up would be the use of over 140 sites, including the following:
Savannah River Site, Aiken, South Carolina, 1951
Rocky Flats, Golden, Colorado, 1951
Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, Paducah, Kentucky, 1951
Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, Piketon, Ohio, 1952
Pantex, Texas, 1951
Fernald Feed Materials Production Center, Ross Township, Ohio, 1951
Lawrence Radiation Laboratory at Livermore (Livermore National Laboratory), California, 1952
The Nevada Test Site, 1951
The environmental and health impact from this decision will be felt for generations to come.
Map of Semipalatinsk Test Site:
U.S. Intelligence and the Detection of the First Soviet Nuclear Test, September 1949:
Global nuclear weapons inventories, 1945–2010:
(I’ve posted this link before, but I feel that it is important to know.)
Hydrogen Bomb Decision:
General Advisory Committee Report, October 30, 1949:
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September 28, 2009
The lasting toll on Semipalatinsk’s nuclear testing:
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