Atomic Bomb Test Anniversary: 70 years after 1st atomic bomb test, US residents want help

By: | Published: July 17, 2015 12:20 AM

An unknown blast shook the desolate desert in the state of New Mexico on July 16, 1945, unsettling the village of Tularosa.

An unknown blast shook the desolate desert in the state of New Mexico on July 16, 1945, unsettling the village of Tularosa.

Most residents lacked phones and radios, so they relaxed when Army officials said it was just an ammunition explosion – despite the raining ash. Later, many villagers developed cancer.

Thursday marks the 70th anniversary of the Trinity Test, the first nuclear test that took place as part of the Manhattan Project, the secretive World War II program that provided enriched uranium for the atomic bomb. While New Mexico holds commemorative events, Tularosa residents press for acknowledgement and compensation from the U.S. government.

Tina Cordova, a former Tularosa resident and the co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders, an advocacy group, said the aftermath caused rare forms of cancer for many of the 30,000 people living in the area. Residents weren’t told about the dangers of the test site and often picnicked there and took artifacts, she said.

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute are studying past and present cancer cases in New Mexico that might be related to the test.

”It’s not about anti-nuclear protests,” said Cordova, a cancer survivor. ”We want recognition from the U.S. government that they did this to us, that they came here and did this test. And that they walked away and left us for 70 years to deal with it on our own.”

The U.S. Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During the Manhattan Project, scientists at the then-secret city of Los Alamos worked to develop the weapon that was dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Retired physicist Duane Hughes, who gives tours at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History in Albuquerque, New Mexico, said the history of the Trinity Test is important because it helped end the war and set the stage for a Cold War arms race.

”I don’t know if anyone thought it was a failure,” said Hughes. ”It really changed the history of the world.”

Get live Stock Prices from BSE and NSE and latest NAV, portfolio of Mutual Funds, calculate your tax by Income Tax Calculator, know market’s Top Gainers, Top Losers & Best Equity Funds. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Switch to Hindi Edition