Sixteen months later, the explosion of Castle Bravo on Bikini atoll marked the beginning of a second series of thermonuclear tests staged with the express purpose of creating a much smaller "deliverable" thermonuclear weapon in the megaton range.
Promethean Hubris offers an account of the events surrounding these tests, and describes the human and environmental consequences of such tests from the perspective of the inhabitants of the Marshall Islands.
This post offers both an audio presentation and a substantive essay detailing the events leading up to and following on from the nuclear weapon testing program conducted by the US in the Marshall Islands from June 1946 to August 1958. Special attention is given to the effects of Castle Bravo, the first of six thermonuclear tests that were conducted as part of Operation Castle between 1st March and 22nd April 1954.
Promethean Hubris and the Ruining of Rongelap can be streamed using the media player above. A CD quality mp3 audio file is also available for download here.
J. Robert Oppenheimer: Archival recording
Holly Barker: Interview with Mick McCormick, February 2012 (Radio4All)
Tony de Brum: "Atomic Testing in the Marshall Islands" (Youtube)
Steve Osborn: Interview with Dori Smith, March 2004 (Radio4All)
Martini Gotje: Interview with Shirin Brown, July 2010 (Internet Archive)
Vincent Di Stefano: Commentary
A. Coe, "Now I am Become Death" (Jamendo)
Alexander Sitnikov, "Downfall" (Internet Archive, MixGalaxy Collection)
Steve Kahn and Rob Mounsey, "Mahana"
Dead Can Dance, "Black Sun"
Doc and Lena Selyanina, "Steppe" (Internet Archive, Netlabels Collection)
Dead Can Dance, "As the Bell Rings the Maypole Spins"
Archie Roach, "There is a Garden"
Ryansnook: "Nuclear Explosion" (Freesound)
Vincent Di Stefano
WHEN PROTECTORS BECOME DESTROYERS
|Castle Bravo Detonation|
|The Ruins of Hiroshima, August 1945|
Despite the fact that Teller had driven the process from the start, he chose not to join the audience of over 10,000 mainly military observers gathered around Bikini Atoll to witness the event preferring, rather, to monitor the explosion on a seismograph in a Californian laboratory. He reasoned that if the detonation was successful, its shock waves would be easily detectable on the US West Coast, 8,000 km away. He had reasoned correctly. Long before word of the event could arrive through the usual channels, Teller jubilantly reported the success of the operation to his colleagues at Los Alamos, and to his political sponsors in Washington.
|Tsar Bomba Detonation|
“Up to now (August 1962) there have been 106 nuclear tests since testing began again (almost a year). Thirty-one of these by the USSR, seventy-four by the USA, and one by Britain, in the USA (Nevada). The USA has made twenty-nine atmospheric tests, twenty-six in the South Pacific and three in Nevada. The USA has also made forty-four underground tests and one in the stratosphere. Total of all nuclear tests since the beginning: USA 229, USSR 86, UK 22, France 5.Grand total: 342 tests, of which 282 were in the atmosphere.Nice going, boys!” (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, 1965)
“After the blast, Ainri gave birth to a son, Robert. His thyroid glands were so damaged that he became dwarfed. The glands were later removed, consigning him to a lifelong regimnen of medication. Ainri got pregnant again and gave birth, she said, to “a bunch of grapes that had to be pulled out of me.” Twice more Ainri got pregnant, she said, and gave birth to children who appeared to be normal but died several days later. Another son, Alex, survived, but again with damaged thyroid glands. Ainri herself has thyroid problems: two new growths recently (2004) appeared there.”
“Now, data of this type has never been available. While it is true that these people do not live the way westerners do, civilized people, it is nonetheless true that they are more like us than the mice.”
“The habitation of these people on Rongelap Island affords the opportunity for a most valuable ecological radiation study on human beings. . . . The various radionuclides present on the island can be traced from the soil through the food chain and into the human being.”
|Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior. Auckland 1985|
Vincent Di Stefano D.O., M.H.Sc.
[First published March 2011.
Modified March 2013]
A PDF copy of this essay is available for download here