US Nuclear Weapons Complex Leaves
‘Legacy of Death on American Soil’
by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for CommonDreams
New investigative reporting from McClatchy has exposed the hidden legacy—and “enormous human cost”—of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, providing “an unprecedented glimpse of the costs of war.”
The reporting, which comes as the nation prepares to upgrade its aging nuclear arsenal to the tune of $1 trillion over the next 30 years, reveals the abundant health and safety risks from radiation exposure at atomic weapons facilities. It’s based on more than 100 interviews at current and former weapons plants and in the towns that surround them, as well as analysis of more than 70 million records in a federal database obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
According to McClatchy, 107,394 Americans have been diagnosed with cancers and other diseases after building the nation’s nuclear stockpile over the last seven decades. And at least 33,480 former nuclear workers who received compensation from a special fund—created in 2001 for those sickened in the construction of America’s nuclear bombs—are dead.
Declaring that “the great push to win the Cold War has left a legacy of death on American soil,” McClatchy notes that the death toll “is more than four times the number of American casualties in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
“Now with the country embarking on an ambitious $1 trillion plan to modernize its nuclear weapons,” the investigation reads, “current workers fear that the government and its contractors have not learned the lessons of the past.”