War in Asia caused the United States to reconsider testing nuclear weapons in the Pacific Ocean and to look for a continental test site. Conflict in Korea justified a less-expensive continental testing site in order to maintain U.S. nuclear weapons superiority. A Nevada site north of Las Vegas was chosen because of its safety features, which included low population density, favorable meteorological conditions (a prevailing easterly wind blowing away from the populous west coast), and good geographical features.
On 27 January 1951, a one-kiloton bomb dropped from an airplane and detonated over Frenchman Flat marked the beginning of atmospheric nuclear testing in Nevada.
JOINT TEST ORGANIZATION
CAMP MERCURY, NEVADA
February, 1955A MESSAGE TO PEOPLE WHO LIVE
NEAR NEVADA TEST SITE:
You are in a very real sense active participants in the Nation’s atomic test program. You have been close observers of tests which have contributed greatly to building the defenses of our own country and of the free world. Nevada tests have helped us come a long way in a few, short years and have been a vital factor in maintaining the peace of the world. They also provide important data for use in planning civil defense measures to protect our people in event of enemy attack.
Same of you have been inconvenienced by our test operations. At times some of you have been exposed to potential risk from flash, blast, or fall-out. You have accepted the inconvenience or the risk without fuss, without alarm, and without panic. Your cooperation has helped achieve an unusual record of safety.
In a world in which free people have no atomic monopoly, we must keep our atomic strength at peak level. Time is a key factor in this task and Nevada tests help us “buy” precious time.
That is why we must hold new tests in Nevada.
I want you to know that in the forthcoming series, as has been true in the past, each shot is justified by national and international security need and that none will be fired unless there is adequate assurance of public safety.
We are grateful for your continued cooperation and your understanding.
The Record of Past Tests
The Spring 1955 Series
The Flash of Light
Exposure to Flash
Past Experience With Flash
Off-Site Warnings and Procedures for Flash
The Sound or Blast
The Phenomenon of Blast
Past Experience With Blast
Off-Site Warnings and Procedures for Blast
Fallout from the Atomic Cloud
The Atomic Cloud
Fallout Experience in Past Tests
Controls, Warnings and Procedures Related to Radiation Fallout
Location of Radiation Monitors
Prospectors and Miners
Tests and the Weather
Claims for Test-Caused Damage
Where to Get General Information
Guides to Understanding Fallout
Radiation Is Nothing New
How Radiation Is Measured
What Radiation Does to People
The Range From Harmless to Serious Exposures
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