On this day November 1, 1951
6,500 American soldiers are exposed to ‘Desert Rock’ atomic explosions for training purposes in Nevada, the participation is not voluntary.
The test was one of a series of seven, six atmospheric and one underground, conducted by the United States in late 1951 at the Nevada Test Site.
Buster-Jangle was the first joint test program between the DOD and Los Alamos National Laboratories. The last two tests evaluated the cratering effects of low-yield nuclear devices.
The test device, designated “NF”, was a Mk 4 bomb assembly of a composite uranium-plutonium core. The expected yield was 18-25 kt.
Desert Rock I – the first U.S. nuclear field exercise on land was conducted in association with the Dog shot. In the weeks before the shot the assembled troops (from the 188th Airborne, 127th Engineer Battalion, and the 546th Field Artillery Battalion) dug field emplacements to simulate a defensive deployment southwest of the shot location.
The troops observed the shot from a point six miles from ground zero, were transported to the defensive emplacements to view the weapon effects, and then conducted maneuvers in the area.
A 1979 study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that:
A significant excess of leukemia deaths occurred in children up to 14 years of age living in Utah between 1959 and 1967. This excess was concentrated in the cohort of children born between 1951 and 1958, and was most pronounced in those residing in counties receiving high fallout.
In 1982, a lawsuit brought by nearly 1,200 people accused the government of negligence in atomic and/or nuclear weapons testing at the Nevada Test Site in the 1950’s, which they said had caused leukemia and other cancers. Dr. Karl Z. Morgan testified that radiation protection measures in the tests were substandard.
In a report by the National Cancer Institute, released in 1997, it was determined that ninety atmospheric tests at the Nevada Test Site (NTS) deposited high levels of radioactive iodine-131 (5.5 exabecquerels) across a large portion of the contiguous United States, especially in the years 1952, 1953, 1955, and 1957—doses large enough, they determined, to produce 10,000 to 75,000 cases of thyroid cancer.
The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990 allowed for people living downwind of NTS for at least two years in particular Nevada, Arizona or Utah counties, between January 21, 1951 – October 31, 1958 or June 30, 1962 – July 31, 1962, and suffering from certain cancers or other serious illnesses deemed to have been caused by fallout exposure to receive compensation of $50,000.
By January 2006, over 10,500 claims had been approved, and around 3,000 denied, for a total amount of over $525 million in compensation dispensed to “downwinders”. Additionally, the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 provides compensation and medical benefits for nuclear weapons workers who may have developed certain work-related illnesses.
Uranium miners, mill workers, and ore transporters are also eligible for $100,000 compassionate payment under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program, while $75,000 is the fixed payment amount for workers who were participants in the above-ground nuclear weapons tests.