Most New Mexicans know something about the downwinders. Today, Retake offers an interview with Tina Cordova, a leader of the Tularosa Downwinders. We also offer some facts you may not have known about Tularosa and the US Gov’t’s refusal to address their sacrifice, a sacrifice for which downwinders did not sign up.
Before we turn our attention to the Tularosa Downwinders, we want to offer a couple of reminders about events and actions this week and a full recording of the Zoom Webinar held on Thursday night. First, the actions.
- Two actions in defense of democracy:
- In ABQ July 10, join Rep. Melanie Stansbury, Sen. Harold Pope, Common Cause’s Viki Harrison, and Mason Graham of the New Mexico Black Voters’ Collaborative at a rally hosted by Indivisible Nob Hill.
- In Santa Fe on July 11, Join Rep. Teresa Leger de Fernandez and SOS Maggie Toulouse Oliver at a second rally in defense of democracy. The rally is sponsored by the NM Voting Rights Campaign, Santa Fe Indivisible, and RepresentUS. Unfortunately, Roxanne and I will be in Taos for the weekend, so please RepresentUS.
- July 13, Green Amendment Day with Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, Terry Sloan, Maya van Rossum, and others via Zoom.
- July 17, Tularosa Downwinders annual townhall (2pm) and candlelight vigil (8pm).
For details on all these events, click here.
A Rotten Recommendation
I mentioned this about two weeks ago, but that was after only watching one episode of Rotten. Now we have finished the first season and half of the second. Rotten is a remarkable series that focuses on agribusiness and the food we consume. Rotten does an excellent job of exploring the environmental, political, economic, social and racial impacts of the production and distribution of the foods we eat, with each episode focused on a single food: coffee, chocolate, dairy, wine, fish, and garlic (featuring our own Stan Crawford from Dixon), to name a few. Rotten blends very human experience of those who actually produce the foods and those who consume them. It exposes a side of food we need to understand as we see how the earth and the people who produce our food are often exploited or even enslaved to produce some of our favorite foods. Thursday night we watched an episode on chocolate production. Let’s just say, I won’t be eating chocolate as often after viewing this episode. Below, is from the home page of Slave Free Chocolate.https://www.slavefreechocolate.org/ At this site you will find more information on the relationship between African child slavery, chocolate production, and also information about ethical chocolate companies. From SlaveFreeChocolate.org:
- The U.S. Department of Labor announced in December of 2020 that 1.5 million children are working illegally and a percentage of those children have been trafficked in and held as slaves.
- These children are vulnerable to brutal labor practices, including trafficking and slavery.
- Candy companies–including but not limited to Mars, Nestlé, Hershey, Cargill, Cadbury, and Barry Callebaut–have admitted accountability and promised to remedy this situation. Sadly, 20 years has passed since this agreement and little has changed.
- Additionally, the abject poverty these farmers are forced to endure in has also resulted in deforestation of sensitive and important national forests.
- The candy industry is a US $100-billion-dollar industry. It should have changed.
- Help us make this happen.
Not all the shows are unearthing the unseemly side of food production. Several focus on innovation or celebrate the heroism of the small farmer or wine producer. You can find Rotten on Hulu, with two seasons available now. We find that Hulu is quite a bargain, with subscriptions as low as $6/month. Hulu bonus: the extraordinary series The Handmaids Tale airs on the station, along with a number of other binge-worthy series. Check it out.
Public Power: What Is It, How Would NM Benefit, and How Can We Achieve It
Below is the recording of Thursday night’s conversation focused on the unethical corporate behavior of Avangrid and the opportunity NM has to create a public power utility. In doing so, NM could significantly advance the goals of the ETA, accelerating our transition to renewables while also facilitating NM’s using our plentiful wind and solar potential energy to transform our state economy. We spoke with Bill Dunn and Vaughan Woodruff, two leading Maine public utility advocates, Bob Bresnahan, a founder of Renewable Taos and a trustee of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, and Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director of New Energy Economy and crackerjack utility attorney.
Retake Conversation with Tularosa Downwinder Leader Tina Cordova
This is one of the better Retake radio shows. It airs at 8:30 am today on KSFR 101.1 FM and streaming from KSFR.org. But we couldn’t squeeze in all Tina had to say within the 29 minutes of the show, so to get the extra 15 minutes, you’ll need to review this YouTube recording. Tina is one of the most powerful spokespersons for I’ve met in NM. Tune in to hear more about the saga of Tularosa, the Trinity blast, and our nation’s utter failure to acknowledge what has happened and support the victims. Must listen.
Tularosa: A Definition of a Sacrifice Zone
The story of the Trinity blast and the resulting impact on the Tularosa Basin, is best told by the survivors. So, below, I’ve simply copied and pasted from the Tularosa BASIN Downwinders Consortium website, where you can also get more information on their candlelight vigil and townhall on July 17. Below the excerpts from their homepage, we offer a documentary from the Downwinders on the Trinity blast, the impact on a surprisingly large swathe of southern NM, and our government’s failure to accept responsibility or provide even health benefits to those who continue to bear the brutal brunt of the blast. From the Tularosa BASIN Downwinders Coalition homepage:
- There were families living as close as 12 miles to the Trinity test site in 1945 and there were thousands of families living in a 50 mile radius.
- The bomb was a plutonium based bomb and it was packed with 13 pounds of weapons grade plutonium but only 3 pounds of the plutonium fissioned. The remaining 10 pounds of plutonium was joined with the soil, sand, animal and plant life and incinerated. The resultant fireball exceeded the atmosphere and penetrated the stratosphere traveling more than 7 miles high.
- The bomb produced more heat and more light than the sun. Many people who we’ve spoken to that were alive at the time thought they were experiencing the end of the world.
- Plutonium has a half life of more than 24,000 years. Once the radioactive ash fell from the sky as fallout it settled on everything on the soil, in the water and on the skin of every living thing both human and animal.
- In 1945 most if not all the small villages inside a 50 mile radius of the Trinity Site had no running water. The water sources at the time were cisterns, holding ponds or ditches. As a result of the fallout the water sources were contaminated.
- In 1945 there were no grocery stores in the small villages surrounding the Trinity site. All the meat, dairy and produce people consumed was either raised, harvested or grown by them. It too was contaminated.
- As a result of the overexposure to radiation, there was an increase in infant mortality in the months following the Trinity test in New Mexico. The National average death rate was 38.3 deaths per thousand live births, and the average in New Mexico was 100.8 deaths per thousand, which was the highest in the nation. A paper that addresses this issue, was published by Tucker/Alvarez in 2019, titled Trinity: “The most significant hazard of the entire Manhattan Project”, which you can access here.
- Since 1990 the US Government has been compensating “Downwinders” who lived adjacent to the Nevada Test Site. The fund set up to extend compensation and medical care is called the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). The Downwinders in New Mexico have never been included or compensated although they were the first people to be exposed to radiation any place in the world. New Mexicans were also downwind of the Nevada test site through the summer of 1962, well documented.
- The fund has paid out more than 2.3 billion dollars in claims and provides much needed health care coverage to some claimants. The health care coverage portion, if extended to the people of New Mexico, would save lives and reduce the financial burden to patients and families as they travel from their rural communities to receive treatment.
- The TBDC is fighting for the same compensation that other Downwinders receive, and for the health care coverage to be extended to all Downwinders. We often say we don’t want one dime more or one dime less than what other Downwinders are receiving and have received for over 30 years.
To find out more about Tularosa BASIN Downwinders Consortium, click here and in the top right corner, you can make a donation to support their advocacy efforts.
You can also send checks directly to:
TBDC c/o Tina Cordova
7518 2nd St. NW
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87107
Make checks payable to CCNS (Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety), our fiscal agent.
In solidarity and hope,
Paul & Roxanne
75 Years & Waiting: A Powerful Remembrance of a Day the US Government Has Ignored.
Categories: Nuclear Weapons