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Oral History: Preserve the Work Experience of Defense Workers in America During the Nuclear Legacy of the Post WWII Era. Some Basic Facts. Nuclear program start date October 21, 1939 First nuclear weapon test July 16, 1945 First fusion weapon test November 1, 1952

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Oral History: Preserve the Work Experience of Defense Workers in America During the Nuclear Legacy of the Post WWII Era


Some basic facts
Some Basic Facts Workers in America During the Nuclear Legacy of the Post WWII Era

  • Nuclear program start date October 21, 1939

  • First nuclear weapon test July 16, 1945

  • First fusion weapon test November 1, 1952

  • Last nuclear test September 23, 1992

  • Largest yield test 15 megaton(1 March 1954)

  • Total tests 1,054 detonations

  • Peak stockpile 32,225 warheads (1967)

  • Current stockpile 5,113 total

  • Maximum missile range 13,000 km (8,100 mi) (land)12,000 km (7,500 mi) (sub)


Operative american strategic nuclear forces 2011 1
Operative American strategic nuclear forces 2011 Workers in America During the Nuclear Legacy of the Post WWII Era1

Delivery Vehicles Warheads

Minuteman III 250 350

Minuteman III 200 200

ICBM (total) 450 550

SLBM (total) 288 1,152

Bomber force (total) 113 500

Strategic forces (total) 851 2,200

1 Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, “US nuclear forces, 2011,” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, March/April 2011 vol. 67 no. 2 66-76 .


St louis connection to nuclear weapons production
St. Louis Connection to Nuclear Weapons Production Workers in America During the Nuclear Legacy of the Post WWII Era

  • Uranium for first atomic sustained reaction (1942) was processed in downtown St. Louis at Mallinckrodt Chemical Works – without MCW the chain reaction would have been delayed by months or years or not even happened.

  • MCW processed 50,000 tons of uranium at its downtown facility between 1942-1957

  • 1942-1968 MCW/Weldon Spring produced more uranium for the US atomic/nuclear weapons program than any other facility and remember the arsenal reached its peak in 1967 with 32,225 warheads of uranium metal, plutonium and thorium.

  • Additionally Dow Madison produced the thorium alloy HK-31A which was used in the atomic bomb trigger and for different components of missiles, jets and planes for Boeing.


Consequences
Consequences Workers in America During the Nuclear Legacy of the Post WWII Era

  • As a result 1.45 million cubic yards of nuclear waste has been strewn across the St. Louis and Metro-East area.

  • Potentially 6,000 atomic weapons workers have been negatively impacted by this work, countless citizens have risked exposure and the environment has been irrevocably damaged.

  • Workers at Boeing may have been exposed to HK-31A.


Eeoicpa
EEOICPA Workers in America During the Nuclear Legacy of the Post WWII Era

  • The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) was enacted to provide compensation and medical benefits to employees who worked at certain Department of Energy (DOE) facilities, including contractors and subcontractors at those locations, and certain of its vendors.

  • Problems

    • Burden of proof shifted from government to workers

    • Government retrieved existing documents relevant to compensation

    • 300,000 workers across the United States have been exposed only 43,000 have been paid. Out of 6,000 workers in St. Louis/Metro-East only 1600 have been paid.


Enter the iur
Enter the IUR Workers in America During the Nuclear Legacy of the Post WWII Era

  • IUR provided resources to assist with the recording of oral histories of former AWE in the area to preserve their story and help uncover information to help them pursue their compensation claims.


What did we learn from the workers
What did we learn from the workers? Workers in America During the Nuclear Legacy of the Post WWII Era

  • Where radioactive materials stored and what kinds of materials were in the plants

  • What kinds of projects were worked on: bomb components, missile fuselages, wings, etc.

  • What a day in the life of a AWE looked liked

  • Oath of loyalty, espionage, impact of crises on work and production

  • Protection equipment: absence or presence

  • What it meant to be on first line of defense


Impact of oral histories
Impact of Oral Histories Workers in America During the Nuclear Legacy of the Post WWII Era

  • In combination with the collection of primary documents, oral histories confirmed or challenged existing knowledge of the nuclear complexes.

  • Most importantly what the daily operations were at two of the most important atomic/nuclear facilities in the USA

  • These in turn have allowed 1/3 of workers to be compensated – one of the highest numbers of compensation across the US.


Next phase
Next Phase Workers in America During the Nuclear Legacy of the Post WWII Era

  • Document stories of defense workers who, in the words of the Boeing Corporate Website “…built passenger planes, helicopters, warbirds and missiles, satellites and spacecraft. They sent astronauts to the moon and brought cultures together in harmony aboard the International Space Station. Their inventions blazed the trail for today's new technologies” while they are still alive, to preserve their records for future research and for generations to come.

  • Interview space and defense workers who were active during the post WWII Vietnam era (1960-1975) in the St. Louis area to provide relevant historical information to the public.


Questions
Questions Workers in America During the Nuclear Legacy of the Post WWII Era


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