New Billboards Mark 60th Anniversary of Hiroshima, Nagasaki Bombings, Large-Scale Nuclear Waste Disposal in Northern New Mexico
Contact: Greg Mello, 505-265-1200
Albuquerque and Algodones, NM – As we approach the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings of two Japanese cities by the United States in 1945, New Mexicans calling for a fresh review of U.S. nuclear policies then and now have erected two new billboards to get their point across.
One of the new billboards, located on Interstate 25 near Tramway Boulevard, went up July 1. It features an exploding nuclear weapon behind the imprint of a human hand, and reminds motorists that “It started here [and so] Let’s stop it here!” The text continues with an enigmatic reference to “Los Alamos” and “August 6” with no further explanation.
The second new billboard, which went up today in Algodones (like the first, it is visible to northbound drivers on I-25) says “Los Alamos. 2.5 million drums buried. So far…” The text continues: “Stop the waste. August 6, be there!”
These are the 13 th and 14 th billboards respectively in the Study Group’s highway billboard campaign, which began in 1998. All but one of the billboards have been hung in the Albuquerque-to-Los Alamos corridor, with one anti-war billboard in the Farmington area.
The Study Group is pleased to mention that this campaign will be featured in a cover story in the sociology journal Public Culture this fall, in an article written by Dr. Joseph Masco, a professor of anthropology and sociology at the University of Chicago.
The event behind the mysterious admonition “August 6, be there!” is a commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings to be held in Los Alamos on that day (for details, see http://www.lasg.org). On that day, the Study Group and more than 140 other endorsing organizations will host a day of remembrance that includes speakers (including atomic bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark, and many others), workshops on nuclear history and on “post-nuclear” development in New Mexico led by visiting experts, and live music. Letters from the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be presented to the Los Alamos County Council, if they come. Some 5,000 sunflowers grown in a local farm will be brought in, and 3,000 floating candle lanterns have been prepared by one of the participating groups (Dragonfly Sanctuary of Madrid) for use at dusk, each candle representing 100 nuclear bombing fatalities. Since the end of the Cold War, the sunflower has become the international symbol for nuclear disarmament.
This week's issue of Time devotes its cover story to that 1945 nuclear attack. Those who attend the August 6 event in Los Alamos will have a chance to hear eyewitness accounts “from beneath the cloud” in person, and will be able to witness their historic attempt to reach out to Los Alamos leaders.
The “2.5 million drums” referred to in today’s billboard is a volumetric measure of the minimum amount of nuclear and chemical waste buried at Los Alamos in its designated dumps. Most of the waste was (and is) not in drums; what’s in drums cannot be expected to stay there for more than a few years, since drums rust rapidly. The active dump at Los Alamos is the largest nuclear dump in New Mexico, and contains virtually every type of nuclear waste. It is unlined, unpermitted, unregulated, and it (or its successor dumps at Los Alamos) is expected to receive large volumes of newly-generated waste for decades to come unless current policies are changed. The Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, in its current appropriation mark-up, has called for an urgent review of the Department of Energy practice of dumping low-level radioactive waste onsite at its nuclear facilities.