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Plutonium is named after the “god of the underworld,” “Hades” or hell itself. It was aptly manufactured and machined by US scientists into the most devastating and horrifying of all weapons. Photos of what the first plutonium bomb did to human beings at Nagasaki prove the point. There is some deadly radioactive blowback in the fact that the thousands of tons of plutonium created by nuclear reactors (it doesn’t occur in nature) since 1945 is so toxic and long-lived, that like the god Pluto himself, nobody knows what to do with it at all -- except maybe to trivialize it.
Hoping perhaps to demonstrate that the bomb from Hell can be transformed from a vengeful, self-destructive, nightmare demon, into a benign, peace-loving, fairy-tale prince, nuclear propagandists and their friends in Congress are establishing nuclear war theme parks -- without the taint of mass destruction -- at former bomb factories and nuclear weapons launch pads all across the country.
Tours are being offered at the “B Reactor,” on the Hanford Reservation in Washington State which in 2008 was declared a National Historic Landmark. Plutonium production reactors for the nuclear arsenal were sloppily operated there for decades, releasing large amounts of radioactive fallout and causing permanent tainting of groundwater which now threatens the Columbia River.
A National Wildlife Refuge has been established at Rocky Flats, Colorado, outside Denver, where the machining of plutonium for nuclear bomb cores has poisoned dozens of square miles.
Near Fargo, North Dakota, the State Historical Society acquired a deactivated Minuteman missile launch control center, dubbed it “Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Site,” and has opened it to tourism.
In South Dakota, a retired launch control center called D-1 is now the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site and is run by the National Park Service. Visitors may go underground and personally simulate a nuclear missile launch, in a show of willful blindness that if looked at squarely, might be considered a kind of devil worship.
Outside Tucson, Arizona, you can tour the Titan Missile Museum which opened in 1986 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994.
At White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, six hours from Washington, DC, the Greenbrier hideaway was built by the Eisenhower Administration as a nuclear war fallout shelter for 1,000 people -- including members of Congress, and their families. The bunker came with a power generator, a 60-day supply of packaged food, a hospital, kitchen, dining room, waste-disposal, and a dental operating room. Of course, a nuclear attack on Washington would have rendered evacuation impossible, the airport a smoldering ruin, and the trains unworkable. Today, deactivated and elegantly restored, the site is making money by charging visitors for tours.
In the summer of 2011, just in time for the 66th anniversary of the atomic attacks on Japan, then Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recommended to Congress that a national historic park be established to honor the Manhattan Project -- the secret World War II program whose bombs killed 140,000 people at Hiroshima and 70,000 at Nagasaki. National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis said then in a press release, “Once a tightly guarded secret, the story of the atomic bomb’s creation needs to be shared with this and future generations.” Jarvis insults our intelligence by denying or feigning ignorance of the vast literature concerning the development and use of nuclear weapons which is available in any good library -- histories that demolish the official government cover story (that the atomic attacks “saved lives”) based on formerly classified documents.
I believe the nuclear war theme parks are part of a deliberate, long-term attempt to trivialize nuclear weapons and to dumb down popular analysis of their environmental and human health legacy. After employing hellish mythology to manufacture real massacres so vast that governments might quake, it wasn’t the too big a leap, or cause of any qualms of conscience, for the same scientists to follow Hiroshima and Nagasaki with 16,000 human radiation experiments, plutonium production accidents, 1,000 atmospheric bomb tests, deliberate “test-to-failure” meltdowns of Navy reactors, and at least 12 ocean sinkings of navy shipboard reactors. All this coldblooded recklessness severely and permanently endangers human, animal and environmental health, because radiation attacks the gene pool perpetually. Enormous radiation releases by commercial reactors and waste sites -- at Windscale, Chelyabinsk, Tomsk, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima to name a few -- have all resulted directly from the nuclear weapons program first unveiled in a show of butchery, and later peddled like laundry soap to the uninformed, gob-smacked public as a “peaceful power” that would bring “electricity too cheap to meter.” We now know the nuclear age will bring a never-ending due bill too gargantuan to quantify.
Last month, thanks to Senators from nuclear weapons states, particularly Tennessee and New Mexico, a Manhattan Project National Historical Park was officially authorized. Comics will have fun with the fact that three proposed sites for this “park” are secret sections of the Oak Ridge National Lab in Tenn., off limits to the public.
In view of the historical fact that the Manhattan Project’s atomic bombings of Japanese cities were not merely unnecessary but known in advance not to be necessary, the United States should be making formal apologies to the victims and their survivors in Japan and offering reparations to them, not glorifying the planning, preparation and commission of mass destruction.