Sunday, June 2, 2013

Down Winders

After reading about the death of John Wayne, maybe partially being attributed to nuclear exposure, I have been thinking of the "Downwinders."  Areas of Southern Utah, as well as Nevada and Arizona were subject to nuclear exposure from testing in Nevada.  Also areas of Eastern Washington, the Columbia River Basin and surrounded areas were exposed due to processing of Plutonium at the Hanford Site.  Subsequent issues with cancer occurred as a result.  Although the government, through court procedures was never held liable, Congress did enact a fund to compensate victims.  Even though tests were conducted in rural areas, there still were many exposed.  Some were exposed deliberately (such as military personnel) to test the effect of exposure.  Many were exposed through mining of uranium.  In all hundreds of thousands were exposed. 
The sign of problems with exposure was the deaths and problems with sheep in iron county. Many sustained burns on their lips and faces from eating grass tainted with radiation.  Many died.  Many had stillborn or deformed sheep.  The herds in this area suffered a decrease of almost a third as a result. 
Over time, it became known that exposure lead to cancers in humans.  Thyroid cancers and leukemia were the most common.  For many years the government covered up this information, and claimed there were no negative effects from exposure.  However, congress eventually set up some compensation, when information became known through information releases.

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