Friday, November 19, 2010

With Radiation There Are Doses and More Doses

To paraphrase Ralph Nader: "Unsafe at any Dose"

This photograph of the detonation of an atomic device was made at the Nevada Test Site, but I was not there.
After enough stink was made about the sick and dying children of Utah, hundreds of miles away from the blast, who were exposed to the fallout of radioactive dust and particles, the nuclear testing went underground.

Most people nowadays have quit smoking, but most of us remember it well enough to know what it was like.  In the open air, you hardly ever smelled someone's cigarette.  In a car with the windows closed, it was stifling
Here's the analogy: When nuclear testing went inside, the danger was increased.  If you could smell it, it would have been stifling.  The radiation that once spread to all parts of the planet was contained underground in tunnels, horizontal and vertical.  The people who worked in those places had a greater chance of contracting cancer or other disease than the hundreds of troops who stood nearby as the mushroom clouds formed.

We had secret clearance and were never allowed
 to carry our own cameras except at our tiny
homesite of Mercury, NV. This web image
looks exactly like the tunnel that I worked in
most of the time, a couple miles inside.

I spent hours shooting film inside the underground exploded caverns on days when the ventilation was off and gas masks were necessary.  I never received any notices or records of exposure.  In fact the Army has no records of the time I spent at the Nevada Test Site.  They have all my records from Army Pictorial Center and from Vietnam, but they cannot produce the records of my atomic testing.  There is anecdotal evidence claimed by some that tons of file cabinets full of records at NTS were carried to landfills.  Fortunately I saved some of my records, but never saw any that would document my exposure to radiation.

Not grease paint just light radiation 
not conforming to normal science.
(Sabattier Effect)

The Department of Defense and all of the military puts confidence in the theory that radiation can be quantified in doses, and that human disease can be determined by that dose theory.  You'd think that a photographer, like myself, would accept such science.  It's just like photographic exposure, isn't it.  The more intense the dose of light, or the duration of the light, will cause an increase in film density.  Ahhhh, but you ignore solarization, the Sabattier Effect, in which the cause and effect ignores the rule. Shadows become highlights, and highlights become shadows.

If the dose theory fails in photography, the same can be true in the dose theory of Ionizing Radiation.

Unlike Vietnam Veterans, all two million of them, the radiated vets have served all over the world in every branch of service.  Agent Orange was used in one country.  Most of the American nuclear testing was done at NTS in Nevada, but nuclear reactors and weaponry have been proliferated everywhere. Just about every case is isolated.  Each veteran must fight his own individual battle for justice and compensation. He must face a tangle of red tape to even begin a claim, unknowledgeable bureaucrats that may as easily send him the wrong direction instead of the right one, and finally QTC.  QTC is the largest private provider of government-outsourced occupational health , and injury and disability examination services in the nation. I met one of their doctors in building 25 on Peachtree Street.  He was a quack, and the examination was a farce.

Radiated vets need a class-action team of lawyers.  That was one of the means that finally brought justice to the Vietnam Veteran from exposure to Agent Orange. I'm a life member of NAAV - National Association of Atomic Veterans.  Most of our guys go back to the days of atmospheric nuclear testing, some 60 years ago. Add 18 years, the minimum age of induction, and understand that we're not talking about youth.  I respect those veterans, but I just wish they had worked harder to enlist younger members in their ranks, those servicemen exposed to radiation outside of NTS, starting with the crew of the Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine launched in 1954.  Atmospheric testing at NTS lasted until 1963. NAAV had nine good years to broaden their scope. Today the scope should extend to the victims of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq and beyond.

William A. Ricks 
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