Hiroshima: Never again a nuclear holocaust

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I got back last Saturday evening after my short, but hectic trip to Japan, which is now starting its winter season. It’s so cold in certain places that going outdoors is no longer funny. It’s always good to be back. As always, whenever I return from a foreign trip I must say my piece, that the reason why I hate going on trips abroad is due to the reality that I must return home. While there’s nothing that can beat “Home Sweet Home” the nagging question always ringing on my head is, “Why can’t we make things the way they do in countries like Japan?”

I was in the City of Hiroshima the whole day of Friday, taking the “Nozomi” Shinkansen from Tokyo to Hiroshima (that’s the distance from Manila to Cagayan de Oro) in just 4 hours. All we wanted to do is visit the ruins of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbacku Dome) and museum. We also had 4 hours to do this, so we could rush back to Tokyo by 10:00pm on the same day.

Today, Hiroshima is a bustling city, which was literally rebuilt from the smoldering ashes of the first Atomic bomb dubbed “Little Boy” dropped by a lumbering B-29 Superfortress piloted by Col. Paul Tibbets. That was the bombing that made history as Hiroshima was the first city ever to taste the horror of a nuclear explosion, where some 140,000 people within a 2-kilometer radius were instantly cremated. The fireball (they call it the hypocenter) was so intense, the ashes of people were imprinted on walls and sidewalks. The time was 8:15am on August 6, 1945.



Hiroshima, Nagasaki nuclear attack posters presented at RCC-SOU Higher Ed Center

Posters showing images from the World War II nuclear attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are on exhibit through the end of the month at Rogue Community College-Southern Oregon University Higher Education Center in downtown Medford.

The exhibit on the second floor of the higher education center, 101 S. Bartlett St., Medford, is open and free to the public.

The center is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The posters from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum have been featured at other universities across the nation in an effort to boost awareness about the devastating effects of nuclear proliferation, said Hideko “Tammy” Snider, a Medford resident and Hiroshima survivor.

“We have enough nuclear warheads today to extinguish the entire human race and this without real education of the consequences of the nuclear use in the general public,” Snider said. “The increased awareness is so necessary so that we can stem the tide.”

The posters show images and tell the story of the attacks, including the death of more than 200,000 people in both cities and subsequent health problems that followed survivors.

Snider will be visiting universities on the East Coast through Tuesday to talk about her experiences during the attack.

“It will be a tough tour, sharing and focusing on my core grief but it is absolutely necessary that we must face the danger for the future of our civilization, if not for our children and their children,” Snider said.


Remembering Hiroshima — assessing nuclear dangers

Remembering Hiroshima — assessing nuclear dangers


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8/10/2008 – 8

Sixty-three years ago this month, the United States was the first (and last, so far) nation to use nuclear weapons in war, detonating two warheads in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Tens of thousands were killed instantly, and by the end of 1945 another 200,000 had died from radiation-related ailments. This somber anniversary provides an opportunity to assess the range of nuclear threats bedeviling international relations and threatening the future, and a chance to recommit to the work of nuclear disarmament.

First, the good news: In a dramatic display, North Korea destroyed a cooling tower June 28 at its Yongbyon nuclear complex. There is still significant work ahead, but this symbolic gesture is a welcome first step toward disarmament. Closer to home, Congress refused to fund the Bush administration’s demand for a new nuclear-weapon system, the Reliable Replacement Warhead, which would have replaced and upgraded most of the U.S.’s nuclear warheads.

Now, the bad news: stalled disarmament, irresponsible engagement with new and nascent nuclear powers, dangers of nuclear terrorism and the tens of billions the United States is still pumping into a vast nuclear-weapons complex.

In 2002, President George W. Bush and his Russian counterpart President Vladimir Putin agreed to sharp reductions in nuclear stockpiles by 2012. More than half the allotted time has passed, and yet this key post-Cold War priority has faltered. While not living up to its promises, the United States is being irresponsibly inconsistent with other countries. Washington’s stance toward India and Iran exemplify the two sides of this set of provocative policy choices.

The 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty established the framework under which nuclear weapons states committed to disarm. Non-nuclear signers of the treaty pledged not to develop nuclear weapons capability in exchange for assistance in acquiring peaceful nuclear capabilities. The NPT’s delicate balance has now been overturned, as Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and India have all built nuclear weapons stockpiles outside the treaty, while Iran is suspected of pursuing that technology.

Now, the Bush administration has further undermined this critical pillar of disarmament by giving India a special path to nuclear legitimacy, despite its development of these weapons outside of international law.

While supporting India’s nuclear program, the United States threatens Iran with attack for thinking nuclear thoughts. According to the National Intelligence Estimate, Tehran ceased pursuit of nuclear weapons in 2003, while continuing to attempt mastery over uranium enrichment.

In the midst of these nuclear concerns, the Bush administration continues to push for new nuclear weapons. The Department of Energy plans to build new or upgraded facilities at all of the nuclear weapons-related sites. This proposal builds on the Bush administration’s quiet surge in nuclear weapons spending. Adjusting for inflation, U.S. spending on nuclear weapons has increased by more than 13 percent since 2001 and is now one-third more than the Cold War average. Most of this funding is going to extend the life of the existing stockpile.

Of course, Los Alamos National Laboratory is champing to expand plutonium pit manufacturing to support Complex Transformation despite a series of reports debunking the theory that the new pits (cores for nuclear warheads) are needed. LANL could lead the world in developing mechanisms for securing fissile materials, stopping the proliferation of nuclear technology, and cleaning up the environmental legacy from nuclear weapons production.

Both presidential candidates have stated their support for a nuclear-weapons-free world. It is time to reduce the nuclear threat by preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, ending the pursuit of new warheads, halting continued weapons production and call for engagement with other nations to ensure that all existing stockpiles are verifiably dismantled.

The United States must commit to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. As we recall the terrible mushroom clouds incinerating Japanese cities 63 years ago this week, that work is the only fitting memorial.

Susan Gordon is the director of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability in Santa Fe. Frida Berrigan is a senior program associate at the New America Foundation’s Arms and Security Initiative.

Physicist who helped develop A-bomb reflects on experiences in first visit to Hiroshima

Physicist who helped develop A-bomb reflects on experiences in first visit to Hiroshima

Hinton sits in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima's Naka-ku during her first visit to Hiroshima on Aug. 5.

Hinton sits in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima’s Naka-ku during her first visit to Hiroshima on Aug. 5.

Joan Hinton, a physicist who participated in the Manhattan Project — the U.S. drive to develop a nuclear weapon during World War II — spoke about her experiences during a recent visit to Hiroshima, where tens of thousands of people perished in the Aug. 6, 1945 atomic bomb attack on the city.

Left with a feeling of despair after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that claimed so many lives, Hinton, now 86, moved to China, where she has lived for the past six decades as a dairy farmer.

On Aug. 5, a day before the 63rd anniversary of the Hiroshima attack, Hinton made a visit to the Atomic Bomb Dome, a building in Hiroshima that was left in rubble to serve as a reminder of the atomic bomb’s destructive power.

“Awful,” she said, looking up at the steel frame of the dome, before carefully reading through the English explanation placed near the structure.

During an interview at a hotel in Hiroshima, Hinton spoke of her experience as a physicist who had thought pure science was supreme, not knowing the atomic bomb would be dropped on Japan.

During the world’s first atomic bomb experiment in the outskirts of Los Alamos, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945, Hinton watched with excitement as the mushroom cloud rose into the air. The explosion marked a moment of fruition for the Manhattan Project, which began in 1942 and employed as many as 129,000 people at one stage in a race against Germany and the Soviet Union to develop a nuclear weapon.

“I thought pure science was above everything,” Hinton said.

Hinton, a talented young physicist who had already built a device to measure radiation, joined the project in 1944 at the age of 21. She took on the task of purifying plutonium, and was given a “white badge” that gave her access to all data and research facilities in the project — one of only around 100.

At the time, Hinton says, people didn’t think that the bomb would be used to kill many people in the war — Germany had surrendered unconditionally two months before the nuclear experiment took place.

But on Aug. 6, the atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima. Hinton, who learned about the bombing in the newspaper, was lost for words.

“We didn’t know,” she said.

After the war, Hinton took part in a movement against the use of nuclear weapons. She traveled to Shanghai, China, in 1948, amid a civil war and later moved to Inner Mongolia.

Questioning her disappearance from the United States, an American magazine labeled her an atom bomb “spy.” Her whereabouts became known in 1951, when an English-language paper in China published a letter she addressed to the Federation of American Scientists. Part of the letter read as follows:

“The memory of Hiroshima — 150 thousand lives. One, two, three, four, five, six … 150 thousand — each a living, thinking, human being with hopes and desires, failures and successes, a life of his or her own — all gone. And I had held that bomb in my hand.”

Sixty-three years have passed since that morning when the bomb exploded over Hiroshima. Even now hibakusha, or atomic bomb survivors, suffer from aftereffects of the bombing, and there are still people who hate the United States.

It’s not easy for Hinton to find words to say to the survivors: “What should I say?”

Joan Hinton,

Full text of 2008 Hiroshima Peace Declaration

Full text of 2008 Hiroshima Peace Declaration

The following is the full text of the Peace Declaration issued by Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba at a memorial ceremony on Wednesday, the 63rd anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city.


Another August 6, and the horrors of 63 years ago arise undiminished in the minds of our hibakusha, whose average age now exceeds 75. “Water, please!” “Help me!” “Mommy!” — On this day, we, too, etch in our hearts the voices, faces and forms that vanished in the hell no hibakusha can ever forget, renewing our determination that “No one else should ever suffer as we did.”

Because the effects of that atomic bomb, still eating away at the minds and bodies of the hibakusha, have for decades been so underestimated, a complete picture of the damage has yet to emerge. Most severely neglected have been the emotional injuries. Therefore, the city of Hiroshima is initiating a two-year scientific exploration of the psychological impact of the A-bomb experience.

This study should teach us the grave importance of the truth, born of tragedy and suffering, that “the only role for nuclear weapons is to be abolished.”

This truth received strong support from a report compiled last November by the city of Hiroshima. Scientists and other nuclear-related experts exploring the damage from a postulated nuclear attack found once again that the only way to protect citizens from such an attack is the total abolition of nuclear weapons. This is precisely why the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the International Court of Justice advisory opinion state clearly that all nations are obligated to engage in good-faith negotiations leading to complete nuclear disarmament. Furthermore, even leaders previously central to creating and implementing US nuclear policy are now repeatedly demanding a world without nuclear weapons.

We who seek the abolition of nuclear weapons are the majority. United Cities and Local Governments, which represents the majority of the Earth’s population, have endorsed the Mayors for Peace campaign. One hundred and ninety states have ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. One hundred thirteen countries and regions have signed nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties. Last year, 170 countries voted in favor of Japan’s UN resolution calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Only three countries, the US among them, opposed this resolution. We can only hope that the president of the United States elected this November will listen conscientiously to the majority, for whom the top priority is human survival.

To achieve the will of the majority by 2020, Mayors for Peace, now with 2,368 city members worldwide, proposed in April of this year a Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol to supplement the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This Protocol calls for an immediate halt to all efforts, including by nuclear-weapon states, to obtain or deploy nuclear weapons, with a legal ban on all acquisition or use to follow by 2015. Thus, it draws a concrete road map to a nuclear-weapon-free world. Now, with our destination and the map to that destination clear, all we need is the strong will and capacity to act to guard the future for our children.

World citizens and like-minded nations have achieved treaties banning anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions. Meanwhile, the most effective measures against global warming are coming from cities. Citizens cooperating at city level can solve the problems of the human family because cities are home to the majority of the world’s population, cities do not have militaries, and cities have built genuine partnerships around the world based on mutual understanding and trust.

The Japanese Constitution is an appropriate point of departure for a “paradigm shift” toward modeling the world on intercity relationships. I hereby call on the Japanese government to fiercely defend our Constitution, press all governments to adopt the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol, and play a leading role in the effort to abolish nuclear weapons. I further request greater generosity in designating A-bomb illnesses and in relief measures appropriate to the current situations of our aging hibakusha, including those exposed in “black rain areas” and those living overseas.

Next month the G8 Speakers’ Meeting will, for the first time, take place in Japan. I fervently hope that Hiroshima’s hosting of this meeting will help our “hibakusha philosophy” spread throughout the world.

Now, on the occasion of this 63rd anniversary Peace Memorial Ceremony, we offer our heartfelt lamentations for the souls of the atomic bomb victims and, in concert with the city of Nagasaki and with citizens around the world, pledge to do everything in our power to accomplish the total eradication of nuclear weapons.

(Tadatoshi Akiba, Mayor, The City of Hiroshima)

(Mainichi Japan) August 6, 2008

Tuffy Ruth, An Insider’s Story

Tuffy Ruth, An Insider’s Story
The Downwinders

Terrie McArthur, Desert Valley Times • August 8, 2008

Tuffy Ruth is one of Mesquite’s originals. His dad’s family has been here since the beginning. He has ancestors that fought in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. His mother was an original settler in St. George. She too was a downwinder who died of leukemia.

Tuffy worked at the Nevada Test Site from 1961 to 1993 as a miner. The men that prepared the tunnels for the underground tests and worked on Yucca Mountain tunnels are all miners.

He witnessed the last aboveground test from Frenchman’s Flat. “I guess that makes me a downwinder too,” he said.

When asked if he had any health issues related to this work he replied, “As far as I know, none, yet. But most of the guys I worked with are gone.”

Tuffy doesn’t feel the government lied to us. “They knew it was bad. They just didn’t know how bad,” he said. “They gave us beer at the end of a shift to flush out our bodies. It didn’t work. They just got a bunch of drunken miners.” They didn’t know it wouldn’t work.

That might be the case. A letter from James E. Reeves, test site manager from 1962 to 1968 reads:


February, 1955


You are in a very real sense active participants in the Nation’s atomic test program. You have been close observers of tests which have contributed greatly to building the defenses of our own country and of the free world.

“Nevada tests have helped us come a long way in a few, short years and have been a vital factor in maintaining the peace of the world. They also provide important data for use in planning civil defense measures to protect our people in event of enemy attack.

“Some of you have been inconvenienced by our test operations. At times some of you have been exposed to potential risk from flash, blast, or fall-out. You have accepted the inconvenience or the risk without fuss, without alarm, and without panic. Your cooperation has helped achieve an unusual record of safety.

“In a world in which free people have no atomic monopoly, we must keep our atomic strength at peak level. Time is a key factor in this task and Nevada tests help us ‘buy’ precious time.

That is why we must hold new tests in Nevada.

“I want you to know that in the forthcoming series, as has been true in the past, each shot is justified by national and international security need and that none will be fired unless there is adequate assurance of public safety.

“We are grateful for your continued cooperation and your understanding.”

Following this is information on the tests which is highly suspect as to the actual knowledge, or inclination to tell the truth, of those writing it.

This letter is the foreword on an information pamphlet concerning the test site, radiation and its effects written by the United States Atomic Energy Commission in 1955 and titled, “Atomic Test Effects In the Nevada Test Site Region.” Its contents are highly suspect.

Tuffy’s stance on the issue is somewhat the same. He feels that everything they did worked toward a more secure nation. “They kept the good and threw out the bad,” he said. Much of what they learned was used at NORAD in Colorado Springs.

As they dug the tunnels they developed drilling techniques that would be used the world over and that are still in use today. It was a “tunnel training pond.” Sandia developed equipment there such as a rock saw that greatly reduced the time it took to dig a tunnel.

At one time the Nevada Test Site employed 6,000 people. Many of them were miners. Tuffy commuted back and forth from Mesquite and saw every part of the test site at one time or another.

Mining has its own risks. Twice Tuffy was gassed by ammonia and once by highly concentrated carbon monoxide. The nuclear blasts turn the concrete lining the holes to ammonia — and he inhaled it. “I should be dead,” he said.

They did lose some men. It’s part of the job, but they instigated as many safety precautions as possible.

Many of the men he worked with, he had worked with on other jobs. As mines closed, such as the Climax mine, men gravitated to the test site and then they worked in the tunnels for Yucca Mountain.

The Department of Energy began studying Yucca Mountain in 1978 as a possible site for nuclear waste storage. In 1991, the State of Nevada granted the DOE the permits necessary to proceed with certain site characterization activities. These activities included excavating test pits and trenches, drilling bore holes, and monitoring ground water.

In September 1994, the DOE began excavation of the exploratory studies facility using a tunnel boring machine. Tuffy helped build the first 250 feet of Yucca Mountain.

The rest is history in the making. Yucca Mountain may or may not be the final resting place of our nuclear waste.

Tuffy did express concern over the fallout still in the desert. As we dig up the dirt and push it around for housing we are releasing some of that radiation. Alpha radiation takes 25,000 years to degrade; it can’t pass through clothing, but could be inhaled with dust, as could beta radiation.

And he did experience exposure to extreme radiation. Twice he experienced what they call “burnout,” exposure to more than 2,800 millarems in less than an hour. They always washed down after being in the mines; safety was an issue.

Tuffy is an original. He is proud of his work at the test site and proud of his country. Mistakes were made. Perhaps we can learn from the mistakes.

Dr. Benjamin Spock stated in a paper published in the 1980s titled Killing Our Own: “More than three and a half decades have now passed since the first atomic test at Alamogordo, New Mexico — July 16, 1945 — and the subsequent detonations at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“Since then our own military has exploded more than 700 nuclear bombs on our own continental soil and in the Pacific. Many of the health effects are just now being felt.

“It seems no accident that we are currently suffering from a national cancer epidemic, in which one of every five Americans dies of that dread disease.

“It would be plausible and prudent to assume that the radioactive fallout we’ve introduced into the global atmosphere, literally tens of tons of debris from bomb tests alone, is a significant factor in addition to industrial pollution and cigarette smoking.

“As early as the 1950s the American Linus Pauling and the Russian Andrei Sakharov — both Nobel prize winners — warned that literally millions of people would die worldwide because of these bomb tests.

“Similar tragedies have struck American soldiers present at scores of bomb tests that followed. From 1945 through the early 1960s, some 300,000 men and women in U.S. uniform were exposed to radiation from atmospheric, underwater, and underground bomb tests.”

Include in these the stories of those who live near or work on nuclear reactors and those who cleaned up after Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

We have yet to understand the full impact of what nuclear reaction leaves behind. But we need to hear the stories of those affected so we can better understand our world and the way to peace.

Hiroshima suspends 3 ‘A-bomb trams’ over threat

Hiroshima suspends 3 ‘A-bomb trams’ over threat

HIROSHIMA — A threat on an Internet bulletin board has forced a railway company here to suspend the operation of three street cars that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, police said.

Police are investigating the case on suspicion of obstruction of business.

Hiroshima Electric Railway Co. suspended the operation of three “A-bomb trams,” or “hibaku densha” in Japanese, on Wednesday, after a threat was posted on an Internet bulletin board at around 10:25 p.m. on Tuesday.

“I will destroy (A-bomb train) 652 at the same time (as the A-bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) tomorrow,” the entry read in Japanese.

Hiroshima Chuo Police Station received a report on the entry and alerted the railway company. There was no abnormality with the trams.

The three A-bomb trams were operating in Hiroshima when the A-bomb was dropped on the city at 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1945. The railway company arranges the timetable so that two of the three A-bomb trams pass by each other near the A-bomb Dome in Naka-ku at 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6 every year.

(Mainichi Japan) August 7, 2008