_ SATURDAY, APRIL 12, 1986 A214

No. ‘Guinea

The root cause of the BRAVOaccident was that
the test device achieved a yield, or explosive force,
three times that which hadbeen expected, and
that that force carried a cloud of debris, much
larger than had been expected, to very highalti-

Cynthia Gorney’s piece [“Islands in a Storm,” _ tudes, where it was diffused over a much larger
area than had theretofore been thoughtpossible.
Style, April 7] on Dennis O’Rourke’s award-winning film about the Marshall Islands demands imDuring the late-hour preparations, including the
mediate comment—not because of any error on meteorological briefing 45 minutes before the
Gorney’s part, but to agree emphatically with
test, the task force commander and.-his scientific
- O’Rourke’s definitions of what he is (a filmmaker)
staff had been assured, on the basis of information
and whatthe film is (observational), Would that he
then available, that conditions were such that no
had been more observant and more willing togive
fallout should reach the populated atoils to the
fair consideration to facts and observations.
east. Rongelap and Rongerik were specifically conMycredentials? [ was at Bikini as a Los Alamos
sidered and named.
physics experimenter during the BRAVOtest in
Of course, we now know that the fallout did
1954. From 1972 until my retirement from the
Department of Energy last September, .I worked - reach Rongelap and Rongerik (and Utirik as well).
A fair examination of the record will reveal that
continuously on Marshall Islands’ problems, includonce that fact was known, those in authority acted
ing in particular that department’s responsibility
responsibly and with dispatch to alleviate the imfor the follow-up care of the Rongelap people and
mediate suffering and mitigate the long-term efother related remedial actions. I have testifects, To use the term “guinea pig” in this context
fied under oath before congressional committees
is a grave injustice to many dedicated scientists,
considering these matters and served as a mempractitioners, technicians and administrators with
ber/technical adviser of the U.S, delegation that
a long-term commitment to the well-being of the
negotiated the agreement with the Republic of the
injured population.
Marshall Islands relative to the consequences of
the BRAVOtest,
I must make one further point, which has to do
More important, however,is the fact that I was
with the sad plight of Lekoj Anjain, the young man
in répeated contact with O’Rourke during the time
exposed to BRAVOeffects as an infant whodied of:
he made thefilm “Half Life,” at first on his initialeukemia here at the National Institutes of Health
tive, offering him access to authoritative documen18 years later. I know his family. 1 attended his
tation and offering also to meet with him and to
memorial service in 1972, His mother’s bitterness
cooperate with him in making the premise of his
is understandable. But Lekoj was not “used” any
" argument factual. Regrettably, the offer.of such a
more than any of us is used by his/her physician,
meeting was not accepted.
endeavoring to learn,
I in no way intend to suggest that the accident
through each patient's
that befell the people of Rongelap on March 1,
course of treatment, how
¥&@ ,
1954, was anything less than tragic. But it does
better to deal with the
not soothe their hurt to so distort the record as to
next similar experience. A
have the victims, and the world, believe their in- -responsible and compasjuries were deliberately and malevolently inflicted
sionate nation, considerby the United States. Such a notion is doubly abing no other recourse,
horrent to me,as it suggests not only that our govprovided to this unforernment would carry out such a plan, but that
tunate young man the
those individuals responsible for executing the
best it knew how to
BRAVOtest (many of whom were then and later
my respected associates and friends) would be parThe film industry may
ties to it.
judgeitself on whatever

Thefitm “Half Life’uses a number of clips to

describe the weather conditions in the Marshall Islands at BRAVO time, making the point that those
in authority were aware of the “unfavorable”
conditions. What the film fails to say is that the deSprintines neanan


Te wn.


scriptions presented are irrelevant. It was not the

surface winds, or those in the 20,000-foot regime,
that carried the fallout great distances to the east;
it was the stratospheric winds, which on that day,
for the first time in the history of atomic bomb
testing, came to be recognized as a vital consideration.

standards it adopts. Ifit

chooses to reward directorship in observational filmmaking, that -

surely is its privilege.

But iet no one suggest
that the product “Half
Life” is even substantially consistent with the historical record or with fact; and let not a journal
such as The Post pretend thatit is journalism.

—Roger Ray

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