From radiation art

“Trap Door,” work in progress by Bea Garth, copyright 2018

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.

"Trap Door" w.i.p. acrylic painting by Bea Garth, copyright 2018
“Trap Door” w.i.p. acrylic painting by Bea Garth, copyright 2018

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.

 

 

 

 

“Radiation Exposure” art project by Bea Garth

I still want to finish my painting of “Legs Like Vines.” However I am also called now to focus on issues of radiation which I want to begin exploring with my art. My family and I and many others were subject to a huge top secret radiation experiment called the Green Run. The Hanford  Nuclear Site created the Plutonium for Nagasaki and most of the nuclear bombs for the United States –as well, as it turns out, a great variety of radiation experiments both on animals and humans. How does it relate to now? Well its still going on, with how the nuclear plants at  Fukishima continue be subject to yet more earthquakes to spue out radiation while the US responds by simply artificially raising the level of permitted radiation in the atmosphere and, for all intent purposes, stopped testing these levels at all.

The government finally admitted in the mid-1980’s that there even was a “Green Run,” i.e., a release of raw “green” radioactive  materials from Hanford into the environment. The numbers vary from between 7000 and 12000 curies of radioactive iodine and at least 20,000 curies of xenon-133 that were released on the night between December 2nd and 3rd, 1949.  (Compare this with only 24 curies of radioactive iodine that was released at 3 Mile Island nuclear accident.) I immediately got seriously ill in early December. My mother and siblings all remember how I just wouldn’t stop crying!  I was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia when my parents observed I just wasn’t getting any better. My mother said previously I had  been a very healthy and happy infant.

I was put in isolation at the hospital for over a month. Fortunately I was treated with gamma globulin for “failure to thrive” –likely laced with iodine. This  more than likely saved my life, unlike many of my contemporaries who were soon  put in their small graves. I was “lucky. ” Years later on my mother told me that a “retired” doctor from the Mayo clinic treated me  because he liked the work my father and mother  did in the Walla Walla area as archaeologists. Gamma globulin infused with iodine is what  the Chernobyl victims were given to counteract high doses of radiation.

Although the government still does not admit its primary reason for  having this experiment, it does list the secondary reason. It  was to  measure how easy or difficult it would be to measure “dirty” radiation and thus detect what the Russians might be doing with their new “dirty” bombs they began experimenting with in the summer of 1949. The US  was in a race to stay ahead of the Russians…forgetting meanwhile the human cost of their experimentation.

I just watched a video of Kay Sutherland whose family lives in Walla Walla, WA. She shows how many of the infants who were born around the same time as I was who died, likely due to the Green Run . It is her claim, and now that of many others, that there were several Green Runs, not just one. Both before and after 1949.  Kay’s description of the babies who were buried in Walla Walla in the mid 40’s through the 50’s is  heart wrenching. It is imbedded in the following file from the Green Road Journal amongst a lot of very interesting information.

http://www.agreenroadjournal.com/2013/08/hanford-and-multiple-secret-green-runs.html