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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

Facts about nuclear bomb testing in the Nevada desert.


CURWOOD: This year marks the 45th anniversary of open-air nuclear bomb testing at the Nevada proving ground, 75 miles outside of Las Vegas. Between 1951 and 1958, there were more than 100 nuclear explosions at the site. The 100,000 people who lived in the area were told the tests posed no danger to them. Scientists originally thought the fallout from the blast would be limited to a 100-mile radius. In fact it reached thousands of miles into Canada and beyond New England. Some historians argue that the highly visible testing program served as a strong deterrent to the Soviet Union, but it came at a high cost at home. According to a study conducted by Dr. Linus Pauling, the test doubled the number of leukemia cases in the nation to an estimated 10,000. Prostate cancer was also found to be elevated among soldiers present at the site. The best known victims of the testing? John Wayne, and the rest of the cast and crew of the film The Conquerer, most of whom died of cancer. The movie, about the Mongolian hero Genghis Khan, was filmed downwind from one of the explosions. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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