Overexposed: The Forgotten Tragedy of America's Downwinders

209 days since the latest nuclear test on April 14, 2022

Major lapse in transparency

When the Biden administration carried out its second subcritical nuclear experiment in September 2021, it remained a secret for 209 days.

The U.S. has conducted 32 subcritical nuclear experiments since the end of the Cold War to ensure the stockpile is resilient.

Excerpt from U.S. Sneaks In Vega, Its 28th Subcritical Nuclear Test:

In 1997, beginning with 'Rebound,' the Department of Energy started providing a 48-hour notification prior to each subcritical test to various governments, organizations, and the media.

For over a decade, the Energy Department, and later the NNSA, consistently adhered to this policy of prior notifications and also issuing a press release within hours or a day of each test.

In September 2010, for its 24th subcritical nuclear test named 'Bacchus,' the NNSA abandoned its voluntary policy of providing a 48-hour notice and, months later, the agency began to opt out of issuing a press release following a subcritical test. In fact, in late 2010 and early 2011, the NNSA conducted two subcritical tests, 'Barolo A' and 'Barolo B,' that were not followed up by any confirmatory announcements for months.

After the NNSA conducted the Barolos-the 25th and 26th subcritical nuclear experiments or SNEs-in late 2010 and early 2011, news of the two SNEs was published in June 2011, delivered in tabulated form-without the Barolo name-appearing in an Administration PDF report.

President Joe Biden's belated 209-day announcement for a 2021 subcritical nuclear test set a new record of SNEs non-transparency.  U.S. agencies and media are still censoring the fact these tests are scaled.

What are subcritical nuclear tests?

Subcritical nuclear tests are nuclear experiments designed to explosively bombard small amounts of weapon-grade plutonium-239.

Carried out by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) periodically in an underground alcove in the State of Nevada, the experiments do not reach a self-sustaining “critical” fission chain reaction.  However, several critical problems remain, including the insensitivity of carrying out subcritical nuclear tests to local, national and international hibakusha. See my PDF flyer 'What are Subcritical Nuclear Tests?' for more information.

"[A] 1998 European Parliament resolution stated that the U.S. was creating a 'crisis of confidence' in the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by conducting subcritical experiments." - global conversation on subcritical experiments

U.S. Subcritical nuclear tests

1997 - present  

2 July 1997, Rebound
18 September 1997, Holog
25 March 1998, Stagecoach
26 September 1998, Bagpipe
11 October 1998, Cimarron
9 February 1999, Clarinet
22 March 2000, Thoroughbred
14 February 2002, Vito 
7 June 2002, Oboe 9 
29 August 2002, Mario 
26 September 2002, Rocco 
19 September 2003, Piano 
25 May 2004, Armando 
23 February 2006, Krakatau
30 August 2006, Unicorn 
15 September 2010, Bacchus 
1 December, 2010, Barolo A
2 February, 2011, Barolo B
Scaled-----5 December, 2012, Pollux 
Scaled-----13 December, 2017, Vega
Scaled-----13 February, 2019, Ediza

Scaled-----3 November, 2020, Nightshade A
Scaled-----22 June, 2021, Nightshade B
Scaled------16 September, 2021, Nightshade C

Oboe (1) to Oboe 8 - conducted 1999-2001

Next subcritical test series: Nimble (three shot series planned thru 2026)

UPDATE: Feb 15, 2023 - Biden's 3rd subcritical test planned. At a deterrence conference (Nuclear Deterrence Summit 2023), where a day earlier Administrator Jill Hruby said that NNSA's subcritical test program's success was hard to overstate, a Livermore lab official disclosed that the first subcritical nuclear test in the new Nimble series would be happening this August.