Mansion in the Storm - op-ed by Andrew Kishner

On June 11, 2024, Congress allowed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to expire. Since 1990, the RECA law has provided a modicum of financial help to a small segment of the worst-affected radiation victims harmed by our nation's nuclear weapons tinkering in the middle of the last century. The recipients of the former RECA law include 'downwinders,' nuclear test site workers and uranium workers--as of today, these Americans who sacrificed for their nation no longer have access to remedies for their radiation-linked diseases from Congress, which failed to extend and expand its 34-year old pay-out program for Cold War victims.

Radiation-harmed populations of our nuclear past are now legally forgotten--how long before media and political attention will diminish too, as happened again and again during the long saga of America's forgotten radiation victims? In our previous national 'reflections' of our nuclear past, which were short-lived episodes of American moral clarity, like the present moment, our government initiated various kinds of 'sleuthing' that lacked the hallmarks of traditional riddle-solving. The government repeatedly attempted to shed light on the nuclear past and yet we curiously still have no adequate data on our exposures and no real studies to review our nuclear past. By all cultural appearances, including studies, books, and movies on the topic, the mysteries of America's atomic age have been prematurely ‘solved’ for Americans, but a different reading of the atomic era shows that we aren’t living in the domain of a best-selling narrative.

Imagine, for a moment, if Agatha Christie allowed one of her suspects to conclude the mystery novel for her with a semi-logical assertion as a substitute to the ‘whodonnit.’ Being that semi-logical asserting detective in that alternative Agatha Christie novel ending meant that the challenge was very different. It wasn’t any longer about revelation and arriving at the right answer. It wasn’t about dispelling agonized confusion or pinning blame on the right suspect. It wasn’t about delivering a sense of justice and closure with notes of brilliance and warmth.

America isn't unnerved by the thud of a closing, incomplete tragic nuclear national chapter any more than we are bothered that we are driven by a greater interest that we believe what we want as a nation -- our lesser interest is that our enigmas have lingered.

By not squaring with the realities of our cultural tinkering in atomic alchemy, we remain cognitively stuck in the mansion in the storm. Americans will forever be wondering about the mystery of what we were really exposed to, what the government really knew, and what diseases are lurking in our future, if they hadn’t already sprouted. RECA was a distraction to these legitimate concerns. Neither that law's sunsetting nor the analogy of an Agatha Christie novel can rattle us enough to care that we have become abandoned participants in our own national mysteries.

June 11, 2024 - The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act has expired.

Public letter to the Speaker Mike Johnson of the United States House of Representatives

June 6, 2024

Dear Mr. Speaker,

I am writing to ask you to immediately schedule a House vote to expand and extend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). I support Senator Josh Hawley's RECA expansion bill.

I have been an environmental radiation activist since 2006. I have worked as an independent researcher to help victims groups affected by nuclear testing and nuclear power station accidents (e.g., Fukushima). I also have advocated in instances where imminent radiological disasters can be averted. In 2010, I advocated against the advice provided by a team of scientists convened by the Obama administration to deal with the wellhead blowout of the Deepwater Horizon. Upon learning of Obama's team's consideration of the idea of using a nuclear bomb to shutter the oil gusher, I publicly shared my views that I gleaned from research and consultation with a USGS geologist. Furthermore, I secured the pledge of a supporter and fellow journalist to sue the Obama administration if it advanced with the idea of nuking the wellhead.

I'm sure you are aware that radiation from open-air bomb tests of the '50's and '60's affected all Americans, not just residents of the Southwest. If you don't have family members who are 'downwinders' that doesn't mean someone you love won't become a victim of legacy fallout in the future. We can glean from the anecdotal and documented experiences of thousands of families in Utah, Arizona and Nevada that the fight for survival against cancer and leukemia in other states and regions of our country must be as heartbreaking--these families must dig in for a battle for survival, lend their soulful energies to help loved ones struggle with pain, and face the spectre of financial ruin. Families from New Mexico to Guam, from Montana to Idaho, might not know they are downwinders. Like them, the victims of reckless Manhattan Project waste storage can really use a little help from their government--the government owes them that.

Downwinders of nuclear testing suffer from a lack of knowing when their cancers will arrive. Medical experts cannot be certain, but carcinogenesis can take up to eighty years. Also, the youngest persons who were exposed to Nevada testing fallout in the early 1960's are more likely to develop most kinds of cancers. That is why I am asking you to work with your colleagues to extend the sunset of Hawley's RECA bill to 19 years. A six year extension will only cause more problems down the road as baby boomers who were exposed to fallout in youth realize their cancers have been discriminated against by an early sunsetted RECA.

I value your candid response, Mr. Speaker.


Andrew Kishner

PRIMER: Sporadically conducted in Nevada, as in China, Russia, France, and North Korea, subcritical nuclear tests are [t]he Nuclear Tests in Verbal Camouflage [2012]. Needless to add, no transparency can be expected from someone using verbal camo to sell you something you wouldn't want to buy!

5.6.24 - Barriers to knowledge about victims of open-air atomic testing, known as downwinders, have been present since even before 1946, when the U.S. Congress authorized the creation of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and gave it a security system to classify just about any information it wished. Decades after plumes of radioactive chemicals from U.S. bomb tests crossed our nation, depositing their geno-toxic, organ-pooling poisons in the places that not even the government knew--or allowed scientists for decades to research--documentaries on the topic have rarely made it to mainstream audiences and movies like Oppenheimer fully omit the story of downwinders (Trinity's fallout, btw, went far more than 2 to 3 miles from ground zero).

The latest unforeseen barrier to scholarly and non-scholarly reading on downwinder topics is that seminal books on the topic are no longer being published--and their used book prices are sometimes volatile. Several key books about U.S. downwinders, like American Ground Zero: The Secret Nuclear War (Carole Gallagher), and A Good Day Has No Rain (Bill Heller), are out of print!

If anyone finds they have a need to peruse such books, a local librarian can access them through an interlibrary loan. Even better, a university library or the Library of Congress can hook you up directly with the book you want. While you're there, check out the yearbook compendiums of top censored news stories by Project Censored, founded by Carl Jensen.

June 5, 2024 - As RECA (Radiation Exposure Compensation Act) soon expires on June 10th, it's important to be reminded that nuclear weapons are safe and the government's sunsetting compensation scheme designed to address the health impacts of their secretive nuclear bomb tests in the '50s and '60s has been suited to the available evidence.

The historical atmospheric testing of nuclear bombs has no corresponding demonstration (i.e., zero evidence) of an upsurge in infant mortality. Newborns' rapidly dividing cells-where the greatest impacts of radiation poisoning of humans would be observable-had not succumbed to the radiation poisoning; their damaged DNA was restored time and time again, miraculously. Though over 100k 'excess' newborn deaths did happen in the U.S. during the bomb testing years (and another over 100k excess infant deaths did happen in the U.K.), there is no explanation in the graphing (below) for the infant deaths. What some deluded scientists hypothesize about a link between infant mortality and fallout cannot possibly be believed.

We refuse to be Defined. By. Our. Past.

More can be read in Rig, Rad, Rad, Chapter 3. This is not science.

2.6.24 - Stop Nuclear Weapons (oped) "The fact that President Biden plans to increase the frequency of these subcritical experiments when he knows that the use of nuclear weapons destroys the environment, is indiscriminate in their destruction and denies the unity of mankind says he doesn’t value our world and the spirit of love that inhabits it."

19.5.24 - North Korea to boost nuclear deterrence after US ‘subcritical’ test: Report / " is the world's biggest nuclear weapons state and only nuclear weapon user which conducted nuclear tests more than any other countries in the world." source

17.5.24 - (A Friday Night in America) - Biden Administration Conducts Nuclear Test, Again - U.S. Shames Itself - Interestingly, on May 14th, a self-shaming nuclear-test-friendly Biden administration whose leader visited the Hiroshima Peace Park, talked with victims of the atom bomb dropped by the U.S and even signed the guest book in Hiroshima's atomic victims' museum has conducted a nuclear test. Subcritical nuclear tests were floated as an idea in 1995 by the Department of Energy cleverly to continue nuclear tests, which supposedly were canceled by a 1992 moratorium--but using Verbal Camouflage the U.S. can say these subcritical tests are not nuclear tests. They are nuclear tests; they release nuclear energy no differently than a 'normal' nuclear test. Therefore, the U.S. has broken its moratorium, for the 34th time. Subcritical tests are unnecessarily provocative, a tool only helpful to chaos-curious policymakers.

16.5.24 - U.S. Nuclear Test - moratorium broken for 34th time, the NNSA press release on first test in Nimble series held on May 14th

 21.4.24 - Criteria shift raises US subcritical nuclear test count: Japan peace NPO

Passers-by waved and gave thumbs-ups to Andrew & Karin on Independence Ave during President Biden's First 100 Days in 2021

For what it's worth...I recall reading a credible source that cited a quote from a Russian scholar postulating that U.S. anti-nuclear activist groups made a secret deal with the Department of Energy in the mid-1990s--the nature of the deal is the groups wouldn't oppose - via law suits, protesting, etc. - subcritical nuclear tests if the D.O.E. would relinquish resumption of full-scale testing. If anyone knows where I can find that primary source, please let me know. NuclearCrimes at g