a new study of cancer clusters and radiation fallout in area of Trinity test, now almost 70 years later. "As part of the long anticipated project, scheduled to start Sept. 25, investigators with the National Cancer Institute will interview people who lived in the state around the time of the 1945 Trinity test and assess the effects of consuming food, milk and water that may have been contaminated by the explosion."
"For years, residents of the rural, heavily Hispanic villages near the
test site have claimed that a mysterious wave of cancer has swept
through this dusty stretch of south-central New Mexico, decimating
families and prompting calls for the government to determine whether
radiation exposure played a role."
“I don’t think there’s a family in this community that hasn’t had a
loved one die of cancer,” said Ray Cordova, the mayor of Tularosa, an
old Spanish settlement of 3,000 people about 35 miles from the Trinity
site. Mr. Cordova, a 75-year-old former magistrate judge, had a brother
die of several types of cancer, and he has a son with a brain tumor." h/t Bonnie Britt
Earlier: William L. Laurence earned the nickname “Atomic Bill” several times
over. As I’ve explored here in the past, he was Pulitzer-winning New York Times science
reporter who became embedded with the Manhattan Project and followed
its creation of the first atomic bombs at several sites around the
United States. As the first use of the new weapon against Japan neared,
he wrote several lengthy articles glorifying the Bomb and the men who
made it, which were published, with overwhelming impact, by his paper
(and others) starting on August 7, 1945.
Then, on August 9, he observed the atomic bombing of Nagasaki from
one of the support planes. Sixty-six years ago this week, he wrote about
that for the Times—again, an account that expressed wonderment
and pride in the death-dealing device. As always, Laurence provided
colorful depictions of the bomb’s blast and visual effects with little
focus on its startling radiation dangers.
Less well-known is another Laurence project, which also took place sixty-nine years ago this week, with his latest front-page story appearing on the morning of September 12, 1945.
To that point, US officials had downplayed Japanese casualties in the
two atomic cities and largely pooh-poohed Japanese “propaganda” claims
on the lingering effects of radiation exposure and accounts of thousands
perishing from some new “plague.” A U.S. general, Thomas Farrell, had toured the ruins in Hiroshima and wrongly claimed Japanese reports of up to 100,000 killed there were wildly inflated--and that only a handful died due to radiation effects. It was the beginning of the
decades-long suppression of key evidence, including all film footage shot in the two cities(as I probe in my book Atomic Cover-up).
A confluence of events on September 9, 1945, suggests that American
officials, right up to the White House, had indeed initiated a
public-relations campaign to counter the first rumors from Hiroshima.
The War Department, after weeks of delay, finally allowed the New York Times to publish the exultant first-person account of the Nagasaki bombing mission by W.L. Laurence.
same day, Laurence happened to be touring the Trinity test site, where
the United States tested its first atomic weapon on July 16, with
General Leslie Groves and physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (left, on that
day, in the crater). The top-secret area finally had been opened to
Two weeks earlier, President Truman’s secretary, Charles G. Ross, had
sent a memo to the War Department urging the military to recruit a
group of reporters to explore the test site. “This might be a good thing
to do in view of continuing propaganda from Japan,” Ross wrote.
Now General Groves, who believed the reports of radiation disaease from Japan were a "hoax," was personally escorting some of the newsmen near
ground zero. His driver, a young soldier named Patrick Stout, spent
several minutes in the crater of the blast and was photographed,
Laurence’s account of this visit (delayed three days until September 12 due to a
censorship review) disclosed quite frankly why he and thirty other
journalists had been invited: to “give lie to” Japanese "propaganda" that
" radiations were responsible for deaths even after” the Hiroshima
attack, as he wrote. He quoted General Groves calling any deaths by radiation in Japan as "very small." (In truth, the total was probably 20,000 or more in the two bombed cities.)
General Groves had expressly asked the reporters to assist him in
this effort, and they did not disappoint him. Geiger counters showed
that surface radiation, after nearly two months, had “dwindled to a
minute quantity, safe for continuous human habitation,” Laurence
asserted. He did introduce one bit of contrary information: the
reporters had been advised to wear canvas overshoes to protect against
But Laurence was keeping a lot to himself. Embedded with the
Manhattan Project for months, he was the only reporter who knew about
the fallout scare surrounding the Trinity test: scientists in jeeps
chasing a radioactive cloud, Geiger counters clicking off the scale, a
mule that became paralyzed. Here was the nation’s leading science
reporter, severely compromised, not only unable but disinclined to
reveal all he knew about the potential hazards of the most important
scientific discovery of his time. Read his Sept. 12, 1945 story here and note repeated use of word "propaganda" to describe Japan's claims, the debunking of reported symptoms of radiation disease, the explicit claim that the bomb had to be dropped to end the war.
The press tour, in fact, had “an oddly reassuring effect,” the New York Times observed
in an editorial. Later, a scientist informed the young soldier, Patrick
Stout, who stood in the crater during the press tour, that he had been
exposed to dangerous levels of radioactivity. Twenty-two years later
Stout became ill and was diagnosed with leukemia. The military,
apparently acknowledging radiation as the cause, granted him
“service-connected” disability compensation. Stout died in 1969.
W.L. Laurence would win another Pulitzer for his Bomb-related reporting in 1945.
Greg Mitchell’s book and e-book is Atomic Cover-up. He also co-authored with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America.
Friday, September 26, 2014
When Famed 'NYT' Reporter Promoted Radiation Cover-up
is author of a dozen books (click on covers at right), including the new "THE TUNNELS: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill." He was the longtime editor of Editor & Publisher. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @GregMitch