“Nuclear Guinea Pigs”: Deadly Experiments and Contaminated Reality
US citizens, and the thousands of soldiers who took dangerous doses of radiation as part of other studies, haven’t been the only victims of science run amuck. Between 1964 and 1968, for example, at least a dozen covert tests of nerve and chemical agents were carried out on servicemen in the Pacific Ocean, then concealed and denied for more than 20 years. Crews were used to gauge how quickly various poisons could be detected, how rapidly they would disperse, and the effectiveness of protective gear and decontamination procedures.
Three tests used sarin, a deadly nerve gas subsequently employed by a cult to kill a dozen people in a Tokyo subway in 1995, or VX, the nerve gas that the US later accused Iraq of developing. One test used staphylococcal enterotoxin B, known as SEB, a crippling germ toxin; another used a “simulant” believed to be harmless but subsequently found to be dangerous. “We do not see things like informed consent or individual protection,” noted Michael Kilpatrick, a Defense Department medical official. “We don’t have the records for what, if any, protection was given to people.”
In a test called Fearless Johnny, carried out southwest of Honolulu during 1965, a Navy cargo ship was sprayed with VX nerve agent to “evaluate the magnitude of exterior and interior contamination levels” under various conditions of readiness, as well as study “the shipboard wash-down system,” according to documents declassified in 2002. Like all nerve agents, VX gas penetrates the skin or lungs to disrupt the body’s nervous system and stop breathing. Exposure can kill.
Another test, known as Flower Drum, involved spraying sarin gas into the ventilation system of a ship. The crew wore various levels of protective gear. A third experiment, Deseret Test Center Test 68-50, was conducted in 1968 to determine the casualty levels from an F-4 Phantom jet spraying SEB. A jet dropped the deadly mist over part of Eniwetok Atoll and five Army tugboats in the Marshall Islands. Public exposure of the secret tests and identification of those affected did not begin until 2000, and only under pressure from Mike Thompson, a California congressman who responded to veterans suffering health damage.
During the same period, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) spent millions on an even more heinous project: comparing atomic bomb survivors with an “uncontaminated” control group in South America, the Yanomami, who live in the remote Amazon regions of Brazil and Venezuela. Without informed consent or any government’s approval, thousands of blood samples were taken from the Indians, and extensive studies were conducted to provide crucial genealogical information on each tribe member. That the AEC research did nothing to help the Yanomami was bad enough. That it led directly to much needless suffering is a prime example of cultural imperialism at its worst.
As Patrick Tierney explained in Darkness in El Dorado, his harrowing account of scientific and journalistic exploitation, the AEC study was but one step in a decades-long process that brought illness, death, and degradation to the Amazon. To study iodine metabolism, ambitious researchers administered radioactive iodine to Yanomami tribes for 10 years. To prove questionable theories about aggression, anthropologists invaded countless communities, neglecting the sick and malnourished, while imposing their own agendas and setting inter-tribal conflicts into motion. Film crews and journalists joined in, bribing tribes to stage fights and feasts for the cameras. The Yanomami became the most famous “primitive” people in the world. But with that attention came modern weapons and imported disease.
Category:Nuclear weapon test sites of the United States
This category has the following 5 subcategories, out of 5 total.
[+] Amchitka Island (2 C, 1 P, 16 F)
[+] Bikini Atoll (3 C, 24 F)
[+] Enewetak (7 C, 20 F)
[+] Nevada Test Site (18 C, 26 F)
Wild life of Nevada Test Site
Landscapes of the Nevada Test Site
Yucca brevifolia at the Nevada Test Site
NTS – Rocky Valley
This is one of three major alliances within the Mojave Desert ecoregion of the Nevada Test Site.
Documentary sheds light on Emmett ‘Downwinders’
by Bonnie Shelton
Posted on August 8, 2013 at 8:16 AM
Updated Thursday, Aug 8 at 4:35 PM
EMMETT — A new documentary outlining the effects of nuclear testing in Nevada in the 1950s and 1960s will premier in Emmett on Saturday.
The movie is called “A Downwinder’s Story” and details the effects of nuclear radiation on places downwind of the United States’ former testing site in Nevada.
A life-long Emmett resident, Tona Henderson, tells us she’s seen the effects of the nuclear fallout firsthand.
“I have 30 people in my family that have had cancer,” said Henderson.
She says that cancer is caused by nuclear fallout brought to Emmett by the wind after the nuclear bomb testing decades ago.
“It just rained here…it was just like detonating a bomb here,” she said.
Some victims in counties close to the test site have received government compensation for the harm the testing caused, but not Emmett.
The issue is the subject of the new documentary made by Jay and John Wayne Films. The documentary also features Enterprise, Utah. Victims there have received federal money after getting sick.