Made in the 1950s, this Atomic Energy Commission film takes place at the AEC's Nevada test site as well as in the adjacent community of St. George, Utah (located over 135 miles distant). The organization of the tests are shown, emphasizing range safety and procedures, and an explanation is offered as to why the tests are so important to national security. Various atomic bomb effects are also discussed. The M65 Atomic Cannon, often called Atomic Annie, is shown being tested as part of Operation Upshot–Knothole. This was a series of eleven nuclear test shots conducted in 1953 at the Nevada Test Site. It followed Operation Ivy and preceded Operation Castle. Over 21,000 soldiers took part in the ground exercise Desert Rock V in conjunction with the Grable shot. Grable was a 280mm shell fired from the “Atomic Cannon” and was viewed by a number of high-ranking military officials. The test series was notable as containing the first time an atomic artillery shell was fired (shot Grable), the first two shots (both fizzles) by University of California Radiation Laboratory—Livermore (now Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), and for testing out some of the thermonuclear components that would be used for the massive thermonuclear series of Operation Castle. As the film shows, some of the tests produced fallout that drifted over St. George, resulting in warnings to the populace to stay indoors for a period of time. The film was likely created in responses to the growing sense of fear expressed by residents, particularly after a 1953 test of a 32-kiloton atomic bomb went awry. The bomb was code named Harry, but local residents gave it the nick name Dirty Harry after massive amounts of fallout blanketed the surrounding area. Exploding on the Yucca Flat, Harry had a blast three times the size of the Hiroshima bomb. Winds carried the fallout 135 miles to the town of St. George, UT. The AEC had set up monitors in the town which detected readings of 6,000 milliroentgens. Many of the people who were outside and downwind reported feeling ill on the day of the blast. People complained of headaches, fever, thirst, dizziness, loss of appetite, general malaise, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, hair loss, discoloration of fingernails, hemorrhaging, and burns to exposed skin. All of these are symptoms of radiation sickness and indicate exposure to relativity high doses of radiation. Residents of St. George reported a strange metallic taste in the air. This same phenomenon would be recorded at Three Mile Island 26 years later. We encourage viewers to add comments and, especially, to provide additional information about our videos by adding a comment! See something interesting? Tell people what it is and what they can see by writing something for example like: "01:00:12:00 -- President Roosevelt is seen meeting with Winston Churchill at the Quebec Conference." This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com
November 6, 2021 Subject:
They didn't know
They really didn't know the true effects. For more information on the effects of these tests on St. George, Utah and the people who lived there and in the surrounding area, see American Ground Zero: The Secret Nuclear War, by Carole Gallagher.
The film is interesting as a source of the perspective that was being promoted at the time, though. Excerpts from this film appear in additional works, such as the film Atomic Cafe.
July 8, 2017 Subject:
How Much Did They Really Know?
The only truly wall-eyed person I've ever met was born in St. George, UT about the time of these tests. And, he's severely gay. I'm not too sure they knew how much radiation was enough to worry about. And what about the water headed to Lake Mead? Or Bullhead City, AZ right in the normal path?