This Week’s Featured Interview:
- Nuclear Downwinders – and that would be more of us than you might suspect. Mary Dickson is a Salt Lake City journalist and writer whose award-winning play, Exposed, puts a human face on the cost of nuclear testing. She has been recognized by the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility for her lifetime work on behalf of downwinders and regularly speaks out against the resumption of nuclear testing as well as her downwinder information talks. We talk about the horrific price paid by those who were downwind of the atmospheric atomic bomb tests of the 1950’s and 60’s… and the ongoing legacy of those blasts.
- Contact Mary Dickson: [email protected]
- Richard L. Miller‘s book, Under the Cloud: Decades of Nuclear Testing
It is the original source for the keystone graphic of the map, seen above.
- Nuclear Downwinder Map – An excellent explanation of the map and what it means. It includes implications for those who live at distance from the Nevada bomb blasts, but are nevertheless at ongoing risk from the radiation it dispersed.
Numnutz of the Week (for Outstanding Nuclear Boneheadedness):
Pssst! Wanna make a lot of money? Forever? Why, radioactive nuclear waste as a business is just the ticket! Government money – mmmmmmm!
- Webinar on Tik Tok for Activists by ReThink Media on March 15, 2022. To register, CLICK HERE.
- Call the Midwife episode with a story line about British sailors exposed to nuclear radiation from south Pacific bomb tests. Suddenly, years later, they have to deal with personal health issues and devastating problems with their infant offspring. The cause is only revealed near the end of the show. This episode is not yet available on Netflix, but can be accessed for free (at least in the U.S.) – CLICK HERE.
- The Bomb and Us: Why Gen Z Should Care about Nuclear Disarmament by Anna Bartoux
- The Ukraine crisis could trigger a nuclear catastrophe by Tilman Ruff, IPPNW
- The Risk of Nuclear Disaster in Ukraine by Bennett Ramberg, former foreign affairs officer in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and author of Nuclear Power Plants as Weapons for the Enemy.
- OIG “Special Inquiry” Finds Fraudulent, Counterfeit Parts in U.S. Reactors by Linda Pentz Gunter.
- Canada’s Big Banks Urged to Drop Nuclear from Green Investment Portfolios
Nuclear fallout, the deadly radiation gift nobody wants, but that keeps on giving anyway, down winter is a term used by those people who found themselves in the path of atomic bomb. Test fallout, both from the Trinity blast, the original one before Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the above ground testing in Nevada in the 1950s and 1960s. As a result, these people were exposed to untold amounts of radioactive material in fallout, which impacted and continues to impact their health. To this day. You might feel falsely assured that at least you did not live in one of those Western states that got hammered by Dudley fallout, but then you hear one extremely knowledgeable down winter tell you,
I know that there were tests being done the whole time I was growing up. They were above ground test. And the thing I think that is the most alarming to me is that everybody still to this state, even here in Utah, they think that that fall out only went to this small geographic circle around Southern Utah parts of Nevada and parts of Arizona. When, if you look at where it went and the government knew from the beginning, how far that went, it went across this entire country and all the way up into Canada.
Well, isn’t that special when you hear it, put that clearly by a journalist who has thoroughly researched the issue for newspaper articles before reluctantly realizing that yes, she too was a down winder. You learn how bomb tests that ended in 1964 are still undermining health and safety all over the country. And that plunks every last one of us down into that dangerous seat that we all share,
Claire hot seat. What are those people thinking? Nuclear hot seat. What have those boys been braking clear, hot seat? The our time to act is shrinking, but nuclear Hotsy, it’s the bomb.
Welcome to nuclear hot seat, the weekly international news magazine, keeping you up to date on all things, nuclear from a different perspective. My name is Libby Halevi. I am the producer and host as well as a survivor of the nuclear accident at three mile island from just one mile away. So I know what can happen when those nuclear so-called experts get it wrong. This week, we talk with Mary Dixon. She is a, a playwright and a down winder. Someone whose health and life had been deeply impacted by the above ground nuclear bomb tests in Nevada. During the 1950s and sixties, Mary not only has the facts, she has the feelings and can articulate them, which is what shows up in her powerful play about downwinders exposed. We will also have nuclear news from around the world numnuts of the week per outstanding nuclear bone headedness, and more honest nuclear information than we are ever going to get out of Vladimir Putin.
All of it coming up in just a few moments today is Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022. And here is this week’s nuclear news from a different perspective, starting off with Ukraine, where as of the time of this recording, Russian troops are in place to invade the country. But the media is catching up with the nuclear dangers angle of this story. As this Reuters article points out, should the Kremlin pull the trigger? It will encounter a hazard that no invading army has ever faced before 15 nuclear power reactors, which generate roughly 50% of Ukraine’s energy needs at four sites. That includes six nuclear reactors at zapper ratio, which is only 120 miles from where Russia is mast on Ukraine’s border. If struck the installations could effectively become radiological minds and Russia itself would be a victim of the ensuing wind borne, radioactive debris, Tilman, Ruff of international physicians for the prevention of nuclear war states that nuclear power plants have a huge potential.
As pre-positioned radiological weapons at risk are not only the nuclear reactors themselves, which are inside hardened containment vessels, but the far more vulnerable spent fuel pools, which contain years, if not decades of plutonium laced, fuel rods, submerged in water to try to keep them cool as was witnessed in Fukushima with that nuclear disaster reactor, meltdowns and explosions released vast amounts of radioactivity and do not require a high level of military assault, breaching reactor cores. They can happen simply from disruption to the constant power and circulating water system required to keep reactors and spent fuel pools. Cool, Nobel Laureate physicist professor Joseph described in his landmark 1981 study nuclear radiation warfare that precision guided bombardment or a commando raid with conventional weapons could rupture a reactor’s containment and pressure vessel. And that very serious radiological consequences could ensue even without rupture of the pressure vessel. If the reactor cooling system were put out of action, the meltdown of the core could occur within less than one minute after the loss of coolant, which means that warn Ukraine could turn nuclear.
If any of its nuclear power reactors and or spent reactor fuel cooling ponds were damaged sufficiently to cause loss of coolant meltdown and or an explosion. Two excellent articles on this. And we will link to both here in the U S counterfeit parts have been discovered in us nuclear plants potentially increasing the risk of a safety failure. This according to the inspector general of the nuclear regulatory commission, as a test, the inspector general sampled an unnamed plant in each of the NRCS four regions and found data showing fake parts were used in a plant in the U S Midwest. While the NRC is trying to foof this off with spokesperson Scott Burnell saying nothing in the report suggests an immediate safety concern, Edwin Lyman director of nuclear power safety at the union of concerned. Scientists said this troubling report shows that the NRC needs to do much more to ensure that counterfeit or fraudulent parts with potentially dangerous defects are kept out of U S nuclear power plants, including strengthening requirements for plant operators to report and correct such problems.
As soon as they are discovered, the NRC does not currently require licensees to report counterfeit fraudulent or suspect items, except in extraordinary circumstances, such as those involving the failure of equipment that performs significant safety function, a status, which is determined by each nuclear power plant Fox guarding the henhouse, other U S nuclear reactor updates in Georgia, Southern company’s beleaguered Vogel nuclear project is getting pushed back again. After the company discovered documentation issues that will delay completion by as much as six months prompting a $920 million charge. The reactor is now about seven years behind schedule and costs have doubled in Massachusetts following an I-Team investigative report on the Seabrook nuclear power plant in New Hampshire, both Massachusetts senators are demanding an independent review of the place after the investigation showed that there was cracking concrete at the facility that is sometimes called concrete cancer in California. The nuclear regulatory commission found two security violations at Diablo canyon, but instead of correcting the violations owner operator Pacific gas and electric is trying to wriggle out of them by amending its license requirements.
And enrichened Washington, some workers at the Columbia generating station received unexpected and significant exposure to radiation during the spring maintenance and refueling outage. The incident happened on May 28th, 2021 when radiation workers and pipe fitters were preparing for welding on piping of the highly contaminated reactor water cleanup heat exchanger, radioactive contamination was found on the faces of two pipe fitters and also contaminated were one radiation protection technician and 18 other workers for those pro nuclear walks, pushing nuclear energy as green, take a look at just a few of the dangers and radiological problems with reactors that already exist that have shown up in the last week in Canada, 78 public interest groups are calling on Canada’s biggest banks to drop investments in nuclear power, including the so-called small modular nuclear reactors, and remove nukes from being listed as their fossil free and ESG meaning environment, social and governance criteria for their investment portfolios.
The banks are all members of the net zero banking Alliance and industry led United nations convened group. We’ll link to a letter from Dr. Gordon Edwards of the Canadian coalition for nuclear responsibility, which has all the details and Francis EDF energy limited electricity de France posted eight 21 million pound 29 million us dollars loss in earnings for 2021. This impact on Francis’ largest utility was largely the result of unplanned nuclear plant outages. Many of them caused by the discovery of cracking pipes within the reactors. EDF stock has dropped 19.3% in value since the start of 2022. And now
In setting up a business marketing guru, say, you need one of two things. You either need something that people buy use completely and then have to buy it again, like vitamins. The other is to service a business or a need that will never go away. And that’s certainly the definition of radioactive waste. A recent article in the British publication, financial mail touted the acumen of a company called metal craft. It makes ultra strong three meter cubed steel boxes. Initially it focused on the medical and scientific markets, but more recently has been creating boxes to house radioactive waste from the Sellafield nuclear silos. The tons of nuclear waste from Sellafield in Cumbria needs to be packaged and securely stored as part of the decommissioning process and metal craft has cornered the market. It has already been awarded a contract of up to 70 million pounds to supply about 1000 units over the next six years, but Sellafield will need some 70,000 containers over the next three decades and few firms, other than metal craft have the technical ability to make them so over the next 30 years, metal craft stands to make almost $5 billion and that’s without accounting for inflation.
As a result, this column sights, the parent company of metal craft, adding trans as quote a well-run business with a track record of success and recommends the chairs be bought. And that is how the curse of radioactive nuclear waste can actually make people richer, nothing about the ethics, morality or dangers of nuclear radiation just let’s make money. And that’s why Joanna heart of financial male who wrote this article. You are this week’s
And they’re not the only ones just ask Holtec we’ll have this week’s featured interview in just a moment, but first you may have heard me talk about nuclear hot seats website revamp over the past many months, and you may have even thought, so where is it already? Well, it’s very close and we are aiming to be up by mid March. Why did it take so long? First of all, we’re talking about a website with 556 podcasts and counting each one of which has its own page. Each page has multiple links. It is massive. The largest website the designer has ever worked on second, we have added a slew of new features, multiple search functions to make it user-friendly a section which links to all the episodes, featuring our top experts, cutting edge search engine optimization so that nuclear hot seat can be found online. And now pre-launch, we have the opportunity to add full transcripts of all the shows.
So you can read the content, not just listen. As you might imagine, this kind of a website revamp does not come cheaply. I’ve been quietly fundraising for many months to cover this long planned upgrade. But the opportunity to add transcripts has just come up and it’s going to require additional funding to get it started. We’re going to need $500. So now would be the perfect time to help us out if you value nuclear, Hotsy honest nuclear news from around the world that mainstream media continues to neglect. And if you want to be able to not only listen, but read the show’s content right now is exactly when we need your help. Just go to nuclear hot seat.com, click on the big red donate button and help us with a donation of any size, do what you can now and know that however much you are able to help.
I’m deeply grateful that you’re listening and that you care. Now here’s this week’s featured interview. Sometimes I meet someone for the first time during an interview, and we have such a good connection. We both know there will be more to come from knowing each other, such as the case with this week’s interview. Mary Dixon is a salt lake city based journalist and writer whose award-winning play exposed, put a human face on the cost of nuclear testing. She has been recognized by the Alliance for nuclear responsibility for her lifetime work on behalf of downwinders and regularly speaks out against the resumption of nuclear testing as well as her downwind. Her information talks. I spoke with Mary Dixon on Friday, December 4th, 2020, Mary Dixon. So great to have you here with us today on nuclear hot seat. Oh,
It’s so great to be with you really. I so appreciate this opportunity.
Let’s start with a little bit about you so that we can get to know you. What is your background?
My background was as a journalist, I worked for a newspaper, mostly I also freelanced edited a publication called the desert sun Utah’s peace news. And that was at a time when we were covering the Nevada test site, an underground test and trying to get a test ban going. So that’s my background. I did not realize I was a down winder though. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at 29, just the spring before my big birthday. And I just thought I had bad luck. I didn’t think much of it. Ironically, I was writing about this. I was writing about people who got sick. I was interviewing them. I didn’t put it together. That that’s what happened to me, but the more I dug in and researched, the more I found out, I would read articles about how thyroid cancer was. One of the most common cancers caused by fallout from nuclear testing.
And it pretty much took me by surprise. It was like a sock in the gut to think, okay, my own government did this to me. And then I started looking at the people I grew up with because there were children growing up with me who died of brain tumors and the neighborhood, the five block neighborhood I grew up in my sister and I counted 54 people who got cancer, strange tumors. They also got auto immune diseases and we thought, okay, something happened to us and it’s very hard to prove, but we knew something happened to us. And it’s just, the more I found out, the more I was convinced. That’s what happened to me. Okay.
What were you told growing up about the tests or did you have any awareness of it at all?
Oh yeah. You know, we had those cheesy little film strips. They would show us in grade school dock and cover. I can still sing it. You remember Bert? The turtle was our fruit. There was a turtle by the name of Bert. And I always thought it was strange that you could just get under your desk, put a newspaper over your head and you’d be fine. I thought, I don’t think that’s how it works. And they would make us go into the bomb shelter of this school with our jug Clorox jug, full of water. And all I could think was where do we pee? If the bomb falls, we’ve got water, we’ve got no food. So I remember that as a child, I remember the film strips that had that dreaded voice of a narrator telling us that communism would be coming to America. We’d all be speaking Russian. So there were a lot of scare tactics. I grew up with. We had food storage in my basement. We grew up, we would go to my grandfather’s and drink milk straight from the cow. We ate our vegetables. We played in puddles of water. We made snow cones out of snow, just put sugar Manila in them all the time. Not knowing that there was a silent poison threading its way through our bodies,
Which was the radiation. The radioactivity that was left over from the bombs.
Exactly that fell out.
Was there any word at all that was given about radioactivity, the need to protect oneself from it was that part of the discourse at all, growing up,
Never, never what we got. I actually have a copy of it. It’s this little booklet that the government printed about nuclear tests. Basically. They said there was no need to worry. There’s even a part in there that says many of you have heard about radiation and are using Geiger counters, do not let this alarm you. And they told us we were part of a great national experiment and every little picture in there we’d be was of Cowboys. You know, it was just like all we were out here or Cowboys, Indians, and Mormons. We didn’t matter.
At what point did illness start showing up in your family
And my family, it was when I was in my twenties, in my twenties. But you know, this, this, this is a thing with fallout. It doesn’t show up as disease sometimes for 20, 30, 40 years. So it’s really hard for people to connect the dots and say, well, my cancer was linked to that, like my thyroid cancer. And they say that especially women exposed as children are a lot more susceptible. So who knows how long it took that to show up in me. I know that there were tests being done the whole time I was growing up. They were above ground test. And the thing I think that is the most alarming to me is that everybody still to this day, even here in Utah, they think that that fall out only went to this small geographic circle around Southern Utah hearts of Nevada and parts of Arizona.
When, if you look at where it went and the government knew from the beginning, how far that went, it went across this entire country and all the way up into Canada. There’s a map that a man by the name of Richard Miller put together based on government data, data from us weather service. And he tracked where fallout from at least three above ground test went. And if you look at that map, that map is the most profound thing. I show people they’re always startled because you chose almost blacked out, but it goes across the Midwest, which is where our agriculture and most of our food came from. And it goes all the way to upstate New York. So they knew from the beginning where that went, I’m familiar with,
With that map. And I will put it up on the website under this episode,
You know, for a while, the government actually kept on the department of energy website maps of where every test went. And there were three different lines because it different level of the atmosphere. It goes in different directions. And for a while, I was printing out, especially the tests that were conducted underground because people kept saying they didn’t leak, they were safe. So I printed those maps out. I wish now that I had printed everything out because it shows where it went, how far it went. It’s pretty shocking. When people see it, there was actually a study done in 2019 out of the university of Arizona. And he looked mostly at agricultural contamination and he predicted that 500,000 people in the U S mostly the Midwest and the east likely died as a result of exposure to fall out from contaminated agriculture. And these are things we just don’t hear about.
It was like that study that came out in 97 that the national cancer Institute did. And they only looked at radioactive iodine, which causes thyroid cancer, but it was a huge study. It was like 120 pages. They also concluded that every county in the continental us got some level of fallout from testing. And that probably 212,000 lifetime cases of thyroid cancer were the result of testing. But that study was not going to be released. Somebody leaked it, and that’s how it got out. So there’s been huge coverup about the effects and the human cost of testing. Since the beginning,
I’m currently completing my research and have begun the writing of a play that deals with someone who is involved in the coverup since before we knew there was a need for a cover-up. So I’m very familiar with the earlier years of that and how lack of information about radio activity, its existence and its negative impact on the human body have all been repressed in order to allow the moving forward of nuclear bombs, nuclear reactors, and all of the mess that we’ve gotten ourselves into since the beginning it’s been embedded in the entire process.
Yeah, from the beginning there was cover up. There are still even when under Clinton, they released some of those documents. There are still parts that are redacted. And I got copies of the atomic energy commission minutes from the fifties, when they moved to testing, they were thinking of moving testing in the continental us. And when they found out what the testing was doing, there was actually one AEC commissioner who said, nothing’s going to get in the way of testing nothing. They called it the judicious handling of public information, which is essentially propaganda. It’s
The manufacturer of consent. It’s public relations.
Yes, yes, yes. And so to look at the human cost of testing, it’s staggering and people think this is something that’s over. And I keep saying a lot over people’s cancers are coming back. People are still getting sick. The auto-immune diseases are kind of out of control. It’s not over, we’re still living with that fallout. And the people I’ve worked with so hard in this movement, most of them are gone. I’m the one left, you know? And I think what happens when we’re all gone, who remembers these stories? What happens? The man who was my mentor, who I worked with so closely it’s cancer’s back. He’s told me the last time he talked to me, he said, I know I’m dying. And I thought to write about my experiences before I die. It just breaks my heart. The loss is sometimes really hard to deal with. And even in my own family,
Let’s get into that with your own family because you and your sister, and both had cancers where you, the first one diagnosed, how did this play out within the family?
Okay. I was the first one diagnosed, but my sister had actually died of lupus. She had lupus, it took them forever to diagnose her. And she ended up dying at age 46, leaving three kids behind you. I’m extremely close to and helped my nephew. In fact, lived with me for a while. And then it took more years now. My, I mean, I come from a large family. Now, my other younger sister has a rare stomach cancer. My youngest sister had autoimmune disorders that she’s been doing virtual calls to Johns Hopkins with the try and figure out what they are. And then I look at the next generation and what’s showing up in them like breast cancer and a 32 year old niece. Her sister has autoimmune disorders or other sister also, and lupus as well as other things. So I just look at how this is trickled throughout my family. And yet I know people who actually lost everyone in their family to cancer. It’s heartbreaking, but people, again, don’t connect the dots. And I would say the vast majority of downwinders in America will never know that’s what happened to them.
When did you realize that the cancers and your sister’s auto-immune disease were from the same source were because you were downwinders and at what point did you accept that label for yourself? And what did that take?
That is a very good question, because it’s hard to think of yourself as a day on winter. And I think that probably happened when I was reading a lot of things about the illnesses that are related to radiation and there was thyroid cancer and there was lupus and there was other autoimmune diseases. And there were still a part of me and did not want to believe it. I thought, no, I was just unlucky. I didn’t want to believe it. But then all the things I kept finding out and all the people I kept talking to, I thought I really am. I really am a down winder. And it was, it’s hard to accept that because I have many friends who I am very confident are like, I know a woman she’s older than I am. She lost her husband to cancer. And then her five-year-old ended up getting bone cancer, had his leg amputated and woke up and fed mommy where’s my leg.
And yet she did not consider herself a down winder. And she was from much closer to the test site than I was. So to put that label on yourself, it is kinda hard, but I view myself as a survivor. I mean, I survived. So I feel like I have an obligation to share this story. And one of my friends who died and she had actually been studied at the Mayo clinic and they told her it was from radiation. But if she told anybody that they’d deny it, she had like whole gloves and hair come out in her hand. But she was always saying to me, you got better. You have to do this work where to sit. So I always felt an obligation
Given that your background is as a journalist, how did this awareness of yourself as having been victimized by this of having been a down winder influence, writing of news articles and features
As a journalist, I felt like I definitely had a point of view now. So I ended up writing about it a lot. I wrote a lot of editorials about it and affairs, and I thought, you know what? I’m in this unique position, I can write, I need to write this. And of course I’m biased because I am a Don winter, but I think it gave me a unique perspective. And again, an obligation to tell that story,
What motivated you to begin writing exposed as a play, as opposed to a book or a series of articles or something? Because your background is not in theater. Why a five?
Okay. I actually didn’t start out writing a play. I was at the Mesa refuge employment. Ray is to work on a book about this. And I left there with a 200 and seventy-five page manuscript and I hadn’t finished it. And on the plane one time I was reading those atomic energy commission minutes. And I thought this is like high drama. And I’d written monologues and had them produce. I thought, okay, I’m just going to write something based on these. And I started doing that. And then I felt, well, I’m going to weave into this interviews I’ve done with downwinders. I did that. And I really did not intend to write a play. I mean, I’m a huge theater goer. I love theater and have many friends in theater. And I ran into a woman who was an actual play. Right. And she said, I want to talk to you because I want to do my next play about downwinders. I said, oh, that’s funny. Cause I’m kind of working on this thing. She goes, no, no, no, it’s your story, Mary I’ll help you. However I can. And I started just putting together those monologues. I had friends who were actress, come read them. I thought, well, this doesn’t really work. Then I met this woman, Mimi Kennedy from LA, who was,
I know Mimi Kennedy. You only referred to somebody from who was an actress and a theater person in Los Angeles. I didn’t know it was somebody I knew.
Well, she was here for some democratic fundraiser and I gave her a ride home. And for some reason we got on this subject and she was telling me about the thyroid issues in her family. And I just said, well, are you from Bergen county? And she’s like, how do you know? I said, oh, that was one of the hotspots. And we got to talking and I told her I was working on this thing. And she said, well, send it to me. I sent it to her. I should call them up. She says, married, you’ve got the real story is you and your sister. That’s going to be the thread that weaves it together. And I said, I can’t, that’s just, it’s too hard for me. It’s too close. I just can’t because it was really devastating when she died. And she said, that’s the heart of your that’s already your play.
And so I started working on it. I called a friend of mine here, go to a coffee shop and I’d give her seeds. And she would just tell me, oh, this is so great. How you did this with the arc. I didn’t know what she was talking about. I just thought, well, okay. But it was incredibly helpful. And Mamie said, you know, send it to me. I’ll get my actor, friends here to do it. And then she called me up and she said, well, how’s it coming? I’m like, oh, fine, fine. She said, oh great. And I thought, oh no, I’ve got to finish it. I really, I hadn’t done it. And then my friend here ended up sending it to a director at a theater. She said, I just, I want to send it. Can I send it to him? I said, no, no, no, it’s not finished.
It’s not finished. She says, it doesn’t matter. Let me just send it to him. Well, he called me the next day and said, I want to open my season with this. I’m like, but it’s not finished. It’s not finished. And he said, well, workshop it. Do you know? I didn’t even know what that meant. I just went. Oh, okay. Okay. Well, the first day we workshop that thing, everyone in the cast was not just crying, but they started telling their own stories. It turns out the director’s mother had died of stomach cancer. They all had a story to tell. And the director said, do you see what you’ve done here? Do you see how this has hit people? And then we workshopped at, also in Walnut Creek at a theater. And I was sitting next to a woman in the audience who had no idea who it was.
And she just kept going, oh my God. Oh my God. What if this really happened? And I said, it did happen. And it happened to me. I wrote that thing. That’s my story. So it was, I just remember a friend of mine because I would sit there at my computer and just cry riding that thing. And my friend said to me, she said, you know, Mary, it’s easy. You just cut up on your vein some bleed. And I feel like I bled all over those pages. It was hard to do. It was emotionally really hard. And every time that thing is produced or has a reading, I fall apart every time. And when it was produced in salt lake, we did these talk backs afterwards. So every night I had to relive that thing every night.
First of all, as a playwright, who’s written from very emotional, personal material. I can appreciate what you have gone through in putting this together. And it’s an old saying about writing. It’s very simple. You just sit down, open a vein and bleed, but a play like this and I’ve read it. And I found it tremendously moving and exciting and infuriating. And so many other things it’s clear how much care and concern and focus you put on this in order to bring it forth as such a complete vision that works for an audience.
Which brings me to a big question, which I think we have to be clear about. And that is that really in terms of structure, it weaves back and forth between the two adult sisters and what they’re going through. And these officials who are being cited saying some of the most outrageous things imaginable, except they don’t have to be imagined. Cause they’re right there. And my question is where did you get this source material for the officials? And how much, if any Liberty did you take with what the source material was to make it as effective as it is from the stage? Was there any embellishment, was there any addition to it or did you leave it pretty much intact? Okay.
And left it pretty much intact because what they say and what they said was so outrageous at times, it’s so unbelievable. And I did, I would always like when I go talk about this thing, I always say, I didn’t make it up. You couldn’t make this stuff up. And I tried to keep everything that I’d already written before. I mean, I’d written some articles and some journal pieces and from the book I’d started. So I had everything sourced and I just used it all. A lot of those interviews I have with people in there are the actual interviews. Of course, you know, you don’t remember word for word everything, but I’m one of those people who takes notes and writes everything down. And the two officials, I did have to make it just two officials who said all the things. And so while they’re kind of unnamed officials, everything they say is something people had said, it’s pretty much, I guess you’d call it almost you not used to. I remember I had to go talk to a theater class and I said, I’m just not clever enough to make this stuff up,
Nor I think, are you diabolical enough to come up with some of those things that were said, which are absolutely harmonic with all the research that I have been doing into the very early years and the pre Trinity years of what, what people were saying and the liberties that were being taken with the future life and health of people, the environment and the planet.
I mean, we were all considered expendable. We were expendable. I mean, we were casualties of the cold war. That’s what I always say. We were better and said, one of my dearest friends who died a horrible death, she said, yeah, I’m a veteran of the cold war. Only. No one will ever put a flag over my coffin. That that always really got me. But there’s also a writer, Barbara Rose Johnston, and shorten this book half lies and half crews. And she said that nuclear testing did not prevent a nuclear war. It was a nuclear war. I mean, we bombed our own 928 times a hundred above ground arrest underground 920 times. That number is almost unfathomable to me.
That is the exact quote that I was about to bring up about the fact that testing didn’t prevent a nuclear war. It was a nuclear war and we wage it on ourselves. I flash back to the Nazi scientists who were brought over unvetted to the United States to be part of the atomic team operation paperclip. And when I see the photos of the soldiers, the us soldiers standing with an exploded atomic bomb in the background, having been given the order to go towards the bomb to test their psychology, all I can think is that there is some unvetted, Nazi scientists who put this idea out. Who’s laughing hysterically because we’re doing to ourselves what the Germans couldn’t do to us, which is
Yes, they were Guinea pigs. And I met a very, I mean, in all this work I’ve done, I’ve met so many amazing people. I met this very dear man who was a poet in Colorado who wasn’t atomic veteran and wrote a book called folding paper cranes. And he was such a lovely man, but he talks about those experiences. He had running toward the blast and he had gone in after the bombing of Hiroshima and saw what it did. And so he told me when he went running out of the trenches to work ground zero, all he could think is I’m going to die. Yeah. His book is quite compelling.
So the play has had a number of staged readings. Has it ever received a full production? And where does it stand now?
Okay, well, it had the full production here twice. I mean, they extended the run. It was extended an extra week. Cause it kept selling out. It had a full production in St. George, but it’s been done in Eugene, Oregon as a reading and some other places. We had one scheduled for last may in New York at the player’s club. The director was just so moved that he just wanted to do it. He said he would get his actor, friends. And we had the invitations. We had it all set up. It was going to be in conjunction with a UN conference. I mean, we had that thing already to go and then COVID hit. So,
And I had a production of shattered secrets that was scheduled to open in Nashville on March 20th,
Like 10 days after the shutdown, 10
Days before our opening, we got the word, it wasn’t unexpected, but it was heartbreaking. People think that lives dealing with plays and theater and all of that can be so romantic and so wonderful. Yes.
I would love to have it done some more. I know it’s been used in some college classes and I had someone who said, can you please figure out a publishes? So classrooms can use it as a text because I could easily footnote things. I mean, there are things I would love to do with it. We did have more readings of it here in March. Again like the night before the shut down, it had its last reading here. And it just always amazed as me that when I go to rehearsals for this, the cast just loses it. I mean, they were crying so hard at the rehearsal for this reading. We had to take a break and I thought, damn, I guess I’m pretty good at making people cry. But it’s also funny. I mean, it’s got humor in it too. It’s not yet.
Yes it does. It has to because that’s the only thing that’s going to carry people through is knowing that there will be times that no matter how bleak the information, you will laugh as to one of the areas where there is no laughter at the very end of the play there is. And I, I find myself choking up, as I’m even thinking about this, there is a litany that is read of the people that you knew of in this list that you had been compiling of people who had died. And each of the cast members that I don’t know how many there are, but each one of them six. So each one of them recites 49 names simultaneously. So there is this cacophony, this is this wall of names. Here I go surrounding the audience with the truth of it. And it ends with the name of your sister.
Now you’re going to make me cry
Well, because it’s so true. It’s so powerful. How have audiences responded when they get to the end of the show? And they’ve just gone through that tunnel of truth.
Oh, I love that tunnel of truth. You know what they break down and it’s, they would walk out of that theater just sobbing. And we did during the original run, we put up huge. What’s your paper in the foyer and ask the director at the end, you know, for a talkback would say we invite any of you to add names, you know, up to that list. Well, it filled so fast. We had to stop. We had to take it down, but there were always more names that would come out and people would come out of there and start telling me about people they’d lost. And it was incredibly emotional and powerful. And we had our mayor, I remember one night the mayor was going to get up and lead a discussion and he had to just sit there while, because he had to regain his composure. So yeah, that’s kinda my tribute to the dead so that they won’t be forgotten.
And it also sounds like a wonderful motivating force for people in the audience. First of all, to come out of denial of this has been anywhere in their own life. And whether it has touched them personally or not to have an understanding of outrage as to what has been done to all of us, which of course then makes it the perfect time to go, okay, here’s an that we need you to take to become part of a movement to then fill in the blank, whether it is, we need people right now, this is happening right now, by the way, to write to our legislators about the need to extend the radiation exposure compensation act. We just had a huge piece about that legislation last week, show nuclear hot seat, number 4 93. And to use this really as an awareness and a consciousness raising and as a result of that, a recruitment tool to get people to fight against nuclear because they’ll understand why they should. So my question to you is how can this play be made available? Do you have it in published form for people? Have you considered doing just a quick create space down and dirty for Amazon so that it’s available? What can be done to get this play into the hands of people who want to read it and B who might want to figure out how to do it on zoom? Because I think it’s very zoomable
Yeah. That’s what, one of the actresses who was in it said, why can’t we do this on zoom? I thought, well, maybe we should. Yeah, because I think it is a great tool. I think nothing’s as powerful as a story as people’s stories, especially when it’s a true story, it just has incredible power and people do want to get involved and I print up those maps and give them to you to say, well, I have these with you. Show them to people because I keep one in my wallet. I show it to people. But one of the things they can do, as you said, or I’m so glad you did a program, the radiation exposure compensation act, because that thing never was inclusive enough. It identified this narrow little circle. And as I said, Southern Utah, a piece of Arizona in Nevada. So everybody, all these decades has, I think once people know how widespread it was and what it did, they always start saying, oh my uncle, my aunt, my whatever.
They will find reason now to call and say, you’ve got to expand compensation. I mean, the thing is compensation was only $50,000. So your life was worth $50,000 or your loved one’s life was worth $50,000. But only if you could prove you lived in one of those rural counties, they were sure they got the rural ones in. They didn’t want an urban area because that would be too many people. If you could prove you live there during certain years and you got one of 18 kinds of cancer while there weren’t just 18 kinds of cancer either. So what they’re doing and one of our congressmen who was just the best guy and who was fighting to expand it, unfortunately he wasn’t reelected and Q and honor won over him. But the radiation exposure compensation act adds states. It increases the amount to 150,000. I would hope that we could see justice for downwinders.
I mean, when you think of it and the sacrifice so many people made, I think that compensation is a must, but more than anything I think is the commitment never to test again. And as you know, Trump wanted to resume nuclear testing. He thought that was fine, which I’m sure he had absolutely no idea of the history of testing this country or if it’s ever its consequences. But I’m glad to report that our Congressman who’s at least in till January, thank goodness Ben McAdams. He succeeded in blocking funding for preparations to get the Nevada test site, to resume testing. So that language was put in a Senate defense policy bill. They were going to give $10 million to prepare the test site. He got that voted out. So I’m thrilled about that. But as I always say, all our victories are temporary. We have to just keep fighting and remain ever vigilant because people, administrations, governments keep saying, we, we need those weapons and nobody’s safe. As long as they’re saying that,
Mary there’s so much more that we could. And ultimately we’ll be talking about with each other that will far spill beyond the boundaries of this interview. If people wish to follow up with you and learn more about the script, which I think is brilliant, it’s powerful. It is deceptively simple in the way that it plays out. It’s just two parallel storylines that totally contradict each other with a lot of details in it. If somebody wants to get in touch with you and maybe explore what could be done with the script, what’s the best way for them to do so.
And that’s exposed D with a D at the end of it. Yes.
Yes, yes. And I’m always happy to talk to people about this. Always.
I am so thrilled that I caught you on one of the many zoom in ours that are going on and had no idea that we had as much in common as we did in terms of all our backgrounds. And we’re going to have a real wingding of a conversation once this interview is over. But for now, Mary Dixon, thank you for your courage, your writing, your work, your play exposed, and for being my guest this week on nuclear Hotsy.
Oh, it pure pleasure. Thank you. Thank you so much.
That was down winder journalist and playwright, Mary Dixon. We had no idea. We shared so many commonalities until the actual interview. Now, a few things in following up, we talked about her play extensively and kept neglecting to mention the name of it. So here it is, again, the play is called exposed and it is by Mary Dickson, D I C K S O N. When Mary referenced the map by Richard Miller, we originally had some confusion as to what it actually represents to be clear. There were 100 atomic bomb blasts that were tested above ground in Nevada. They were in the atmosphere and the black lines on the map show the places in the United States where radiation fall out, clouds were tracked over an area at least three separate times from three separate blasts, some versions of the map, online state, that there were two separate blasts. Sometimes there’s a bit of confusion as to whether it’s from all the blasts or not.
But through Mary, we checked back with the maps creator, Richard Miller, and it’s the fallout cloud went over these areas at least three times, by the way, Richard Miller’s book is entitled under the cloud, the decades of nuclear thinking. And we should probably get him on the show for an interview as well. Now, if you would like to keep one of those maps in your wallet to show people, it’s the Keystone picture I’m using for this week’s show. So you can grab it, put it onto your hard drive and print it out in any form. You like put it on a baseball cap. And also we will have a link up for Mary Dixon on the website, nuclear hot seat.com. Under this episode, number 5 57
There is a webinar coming up in March on Tik TOK, meaning it is about how to work with Tik TOK, not on Tik TOK itself. Now Tik TOK presents a unique opportunity for advocacy groups looking to reach new and younger audiences and expand their reach. As the platform continues to shape the future of digital media it’s being put on by John Pope and rethink media. And that has been a source of a lot of great information on how to use social media, to our benefit in the training. Everything will be covered from launching a Tik TOK account to the best practices when creating new content among specific points will be strategies for launching a new tic-tac account insights on how to create Tik TOK content, best practices for the platform and top tips for growing your audience on Tik TOK. At the end of the formal presentation, attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions.
This will be on Tuesday, March 15 at 1:00 PM. Eastern 10:00 AM Pacific time. We’ll have a link where you can go to sign up for the webinar on our website, nuclear hot seat.com. Under this episode, number 5 57, speaking of younger activists, there is an article that we’re going to link to called the bomb and us. Why gen Z should care about nuclear disarmament. And it’s written by a member of that target audience, Anna Barto, who is a junior studying political science at Columbia university school of general studies, click on the link, give it a read and then send that link to any gen zeros you happen to know as we activists with a preponderance of gray hair. No, we must get the younger generation involved if this movement is to continue. And here’s an unexpected support to our perspective, the British TV series called the midwife, which is featured on Netflix, has a storyline about British sailors exposed to nuclear radiation from south Pacific bomb tests.
The sailors suddenly years later dealing with personal health issues and devastating problems with their infant offspring. This particular episode has not yet been posted to Netflix, but it is available for free viewing here in the United States on PBS. We will have a link to it on the website and note that it is only at the end of the episode that you learn that the problems that have been explored in the episode relate back to nuclear radiation from bomb tests. This has been nuclear hot seat for Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022 material for this week show has been researched and compiled from nuclear-news.net dot wordpress.com beyond nuclear.org, nears.org, the international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons, or I can w.org see preview.org anti-nuclear dot net reuters.com. omaha.com. John manabu.com Japan times.co.jp Mark Z. Jacobson on Twitter BNN, bloomberg.ca M S n.com. Try dash city herald.com. Ed Lyman of ucs.org. Again via Twitter, U S news.com.
Detroit news.com Oregon live.com straight times.com the diplomat.com the guardian.com Tokyo dot N P that’s ceo.jp, Dr. Gordon Edwards and CC and r.org nuke safety. You see S on Twitter, financial post.com, independent.co.uk F t.com Telegraph co.uk marketwatch.com and be captured and compromised by the industry. They’re supposed to be regulating nuclear regulatory commission. For those of you who would like to get nuclear, hot seat delivered via email every week, it’s a terrific way to not miss a single episode. It’s easy to do so just go to nuclear hot seat.com. Look for the yellow box and fill in your first name and your email address. As soon as the show posts every week, you will get a link plus a brief description of the content. And we’d like to hear from you. If you have a story lead, a hot tip, or a suggestion of someone to interview, send an email to [email protected]
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Clear hot seat. What are those people thinking? Nuclear hot seat. What have those boys been breaking clear, hot? See the Ms. Sinking our time to act is shrinking, but the visceral linking Hotsy it’s the bomb