I am finally beginning a new series about the effects of radiation from Hanford etc. from a personal child-like point of view. Here I am falling through a trap door into the waiting arms of Pluto (God of the Underworld–and of nuclear radiation) with my cat falling with me at my side.
I am still planning to put in some shading etc. Otherwise I think this new 2′ x 3′ acrylic painting is close to done.
The pink represents invisible radiation that blanketed the area outside of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation the night of December 2nd and 3rd, 1949 — including where we lived in Walla Walla, Washington. Apparently it rained when it wasn’t “supposed to.” Twice the amount of radiation was released than they had originally planned. I have read they secretly released between 8000 and 12,000 curies of radioactive iodine–and that this was not the only “green run,” i.e., where green uncured uranium was used at Hanford. The scrubbers for the effluent were turned off at night for 12 hours. It was part of the Cold War race for nuclear superiority with Russia.
There was no notification to the locals so none of us knew about any of this, and thus we did not know we needed to protect ourselves. It wasn’t discovered until years later when mention of the “green run” was found inside mountains of paper-work that was given to an enquiring reporter from Spokane (Karen Dorn Steele). The paper-work was supposed to prove Hanford had nothing serious to hide. As it turned out, it was far more serious than anyone ever thought.
Now I realize my recurring dream of falling through a trap door was my child self representing what actually happened. After being a very healthy baby, at age 4 months (coincident with the Green Run) I suddenly became severely ill with pneumonia for close to a year.
Eventually I was taken to the hospital and put in isolation to figure out what could be done. I was given special treatment since my parents were local celebrities for their work as archaeologists finding and carefully uncovering Fort Walla Walla. I was taken off gluten, sugar and milk fat, plus given gamma globulin for my “failure to thrive.” Fortunately I bounced back! Much later I learned that some of the Chernobyl victims were also given gamma globulin and often special diets. Like me, they got better.
It makes me sad to think of all the other babies who could have been helped like me, but weren’t. Quite a few ended up in the cemetery. Babies are a lot more sensitive to radiation than anyone else. Clearly we need a new paradigm where the health of the Earth and those who live on it needs to come first rather than continuing a focus on an insane arms race that forgets we all live together on a fragile planet.
This makes me think of the continuing problems at Fukishima and, similar to Hanford, how real news coming from there is largely suppressed. And the very real threat of bringing back the Cold War–or a hot one, possibly started in the Middle East ,rather than focus on how we can restore our ailing planet.
Meanwhile, here in Washington at the Hanford site, problems with the clean-up continues to be a sore point. The numerous open radiation pits, leaking cannisters and the fact spent fuel rods are stored just 400 feet from the Columbia River, leaves us open for trouble. I wish it would all just go away, but it looks like Hanford’s old demons will stay with us for some time.