Department of Defense Facility
On July 16, 1945, the first plutonium-based atomic device was detonated at Trinity site in southern New Mexico. Dubbed The Gadget,
it was created at LANL and contained 13.2 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium-239. Only 2.6 pounds of the plutonium was fissioned; the remaining 10.6 pounds
were dispersed into the environment blanketing farmers and ranchers, who grew their own food, milked cows, and collected rainwater in cisterns for drinking.
The blast, which broke windows in Gallup and Silver City, was visible in Albuquerque and El Paso. Contamination was even found in Indiana. To maintain secrecy the government did not evacuate the people living near the test site nor were they examined to determine internal radiation doses from inhaling contaminated air and ingesting contaminated food and liquids.
The cancer mortality rates for the four counties surrounding the Trinity Site (Lincoln, Otero, Sierra and Socorro) are three to eight times the national rate.
“There’s a misconception that when the Trinity test took place in 1945 the four counties surround the test site were sparsely populated. In fact the census data from that time frame shows that more than 30,000 people lived within a 60-mile radius. The radiation exposure subsequent to Trinity was significant for the people and has continued since then.”
Tina Cordova, Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium
NGOs Working on the Trinity Nuclear Weapon Test Site
Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium