Sunday, May 13, 2007

Nuclear Accident in Greenland Revisited

The 1968 nuclear accident in Greenland, one that I addressed in an earlier post, remains in the news. You might recall that a B-52 crashed on the sea ice while on approach to Thule AFB. The B-52 was carrying four nuclear bombs. The Danes who assisted in the cleanup of the crash site continue to ask the Danish government to monitor their health, according to the news story that appeared on the BBCNews on Friday.

This BBCNews story reports that the Americans involved in the cleanup have been “regularly examined.” It is unknown whether the Air Force personnel involved have suffered higher than normal rates of cancer.

The poet Paul Zimmer described his participation in the nuclear tests carried out on the Nevada desert in the 1950’s in his book of essays, After the Fire: A Writer Finds His Place (2002). No one to my knowledge has researched the rate of cancer among the military personnel who participated in those tests. Army troops were crouched in trenches during the blasts. The Downwinders in Utah have had their accounts of the tests and the repercussions they experienced made public. Unless the government has reclassified information regarding the nuclear tests, investigating the health effects on those troops who witnessed the nuclear testing is worthy of further research. If I were a graduate student in history and searching for a dissertation topic, I would certainly consider exploring the nuclear tests in the Nevada desert.