- Tracy AtkinsProject Manager, Manhattan Project National Historical Park
- Martha CrusiusProgram Chief, Park Planning and Environmental Compliance at National Park Service
- Vic KnoxManhattan Project NHP Team Lead, NPS Associate Director for Park Planning, Facilities and Lands
Manhattan Project National Park: Remember the Downwinders!
We all know nuclear radiation can kill you.
We kinda remember that sometime around WWII US bomb-builders rained and leaked radiation on innocent citizens--the "Downwinders"--who happened to live near the places nuclear bombs were built and tested.
The Downwinders deserve public recognition.
The US government is building a $21 million dollar National Park to commemorate the bomb-building sites. It’s called the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, and will have three locations: Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Los Alamos, New Mexico; and Richland, Washington.
To date: no government-sponsored atomic-era museum has told the painful stories of the hundreds of thousands of people it poisoned. Not the National Atomic Testing Museum in Nevada; not the Los Alamos Historical Museum in New Mexico; not the REACH Museum in Washington; not anywhere.
During the Manhattan Project decades, thousands of US citizens, including children, unknowingly drank milk from poisoned cows, swam in rivers into which radioactive waste was dumped, and watched atomic test blasts from their front porches, trusting in their government to keep them and their families safe.
I’m one of the kids. I’m a Downwinder from Richland, Washington, the town closest to Hanford. I watched my parents die of aggressive radiation-related cancers.I had my damaged thyroid gland removed at the first sign of cancer; I suffer from radiation-related parathyroid problems, tetany, chronic fatigue, and other serious illness.
Thousands of Downwinders like me deserve formal recognition. And all Americans deserve a government that protects its own citizens, and is forthright and accountable when it fails to do so.
Please sign my petition to ensure that the Downwinders’ story will be prominently included in the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
- Project Manager, Manhattan Project National Historical Park
- Program Chief, Park Planning and Environmental Compliance at National Park Service
- Manhattan Project NHP Team Lead, NPS Associate Director for Park Planning, Facilities and Lands
Dear Ms. Atkins and Ms. Crusius:
We urge you to ensure that the Manhattan Project National Historical Park include prominent, permanent displays telling the stories of the many thousands of innocent US citizens—known as “Downwinders”--who were poisoned by Manhattan Project radiation.
Virtually all Manhattan Project nuclear weapons production and testing facilities released radiation—sometimes deliberately-- onto unsuspecting communities downwind. A legacy of serious illness and death continues to this day.
Do not exclude the Downwinders from exhibits and materials presented by the Park. No atomic era museums in the United States now display that dark consequence of the Manhattan Project: Not the National Atomic Testing Museum in Paradise, Nevada; not the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque, New Mexico; not the Los Alamos Historical Museum and Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos, New Mexico; not the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; not the REACH Museum in Richland, Washington.
We believe the Downwinders’ story has been ignored by other museums because, historically, the Department of Energy has chosen to emphasize the scientific and military accomplishments of the Manhattan Project while silencing the tales of those US citizens whose lives have been damaged and lost in the process.
The undersigned petitioners commend the park’s mandate to “improve public understanding of the Manhattan Project and the legacy of the Manhattan Project…”
In that spirit, The Manhattan Project National Historical Park should tell the whole story, including its most painful truths.
Thank you for your serious consideration of our request.
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