According to The Nation, February 7, 1981, between 1950 and 1980
the U.S. had 27 nuclear accidents acknowledged by the Pentagon,
several of which have spewed radiation into earth, sea, and
atmosphere. The Center for Defense Information (1500 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC) reported 55 accidents or "incidents" for the same period. Extrapolating from those lists, we published a Peace Release in 1987 which was picked up by the National Education Association's newsletter:
- 1/13/50: B-36 dropped nuclear weapon into Puget Sound,
Washington. High explosive material detonated.
- 4/11/50: B-29 crashed into mountain in New Mexico.
- 7/13/50: B-50 crashed in Lebanon, Ohio; nuclear weapon's high
explosive material detonated.
- 8/5/50: B-29 crashed at Travis AFB, California; nuclear
weapon's high explosive material detonated.
- 3/10/56: B-47 disappeared with "two capsules of nuclear weapons
material" over the Mediterranean Sea.
- 7/26/56: B-47 crashed into "storage igloo containing several
- 5/22/57: B-36 dropped nuclear bomb in New Mexico desert; high
explosive material detonated, made crater 25' in diameter, 12'
- 7/28/57: C-124 jettisoned and lost two nuclear weapons over the
- 10/11/57: B-47 crashed with nuclear weapon and capsule in
Florida; "two low grade detonations."
- 1/31/58: B-47 crashed and burned with one nuclear weapon "in
strike configuration ... some contamination."
- 2/5/58: B-47 collided with F-86 midair; jettisoned and lost
nuclear weapon "five miles southeast of the mouth of the Savannah
- 3/11/58: B-47 accidentally jettisoned unarmed nuclear weapon at
Florence, South Carolina. High explosive material detonated on
- 11/4/58: B-47 caught fire on takeoff and crashed in Texas; high
explosive in nuclear weapon exploded, leaving "crater 35' in
diameter and 6' deep."
- 11/26/58: B-47 caught fire on ground, nuclear weapon board
destroyed, in Louisiana.
- 1/18/59: F-100 caught fire while loaded with unarmed nuclear
weapon at Pacific base.
- 7/6/59: C-124 crashed; nuclear weapon destroyed in Louisiana.
- 10/15/59: B-52 collided with KC-135 during refueling over
Kentucky; two unarmed nuclear weapons were recovered.
- 6/7/60: Bomarc air defense missile in storage destroyed by
explosion and fire in New Jersey.
- 1/24/61: B-52 crashed and dropped two 20-megaton nuclear weapons
near Goldsboro, North Carolina. Five of six interlocking safety
triggers on the bomb failed. One weapon never recovered; Air
Force purchased easement where lost.
- 3/14/61: B-52 with two nuclear weapons crashed at Yuba City,
- 1/13/64: B-52D crashed at Cumberland City, Maryland, with two
unarmed nuclear weapons on board.
- 12/5/64: Retrograde rocket of Minuteman ICBM on strategic alert
accidentally fired during repairs in South Dakota.
- 12/8/64: B-58 crashed and nuclear weapon burned in Indiana;
"contamination was limited to immediate area of crash and
- 10/12/65: C-124 caught fire with nuclear weapons aboard in Ohio.
- 1/17/66: Palomares, Spain: B-52 and KC-135 collided midair
during refueling. Of four nuclear weapons, high explosive
material of two exploded on impact; other two finally found after
extensive (four month) search. 1,400 tons of "slightly
contaminated soil and vegetation were removed to the U.S. for
storage." DOE reports cleanup cost $50 million and Palomares is
still being monitored for radiation.
- 1/21/68: B-52 crashed at Thule AFB, Greenland. One of four nuclear
weapons recovered by Seabees from ocean floor; others may have been destroyed by fire; 237,000 cubic feet of
contaminated ice, snow, and water removed to U.S. Comment from Scott Portzline, email@example.com: Three of the four bombs were destroyed by fire. A fourth bomb sank to the ocean bottom when the intense heat melted the Arctic ice. Many Danish workers who cleaned up the radioactive contaminated snow and ice suffered adverse health effects or died in the following years. The bomb on the ocean floor was finally recovered in 1979 by US Navy
Seals and Seabees. I was not a witness. I have pictures of some of the equipment. Workers involved in the initial cleanup died later from the exposure to radiation, according to their relatives testimony. Scott Portzline
- 9/19/80: Titan II missile warhead hurled 600 feet from silo
after Air Force repairman dropped socket wrench which punctured
fuel tank and caused explosion. Local residents were evacuated.
DID YOU KNOW:
* On June 3 and 76, 1980, SAC command post display system
mistakenly indicated that two nuclear weapons had been launched
at the U.S. thanks to a faulty computer chip; U.S. went on full
* Secret documents obtained in a federal court case in Hawaii
disclosed that there were 381 Navy nuclear weapons accidents and
incidents from 1965 through 1977?
According to a January, 1986 news release, the disclosures came
in a Freedom of Information suit brought by the American Friends
Service Committee (1501 Cherry St., Philadelphia, PA 19102) in
1980. Of an average of 29.3 nuclear weapon accidents and
incidents per year during the 12-year period, 146 involved
tactical nuclear bombs carried by Naval aircraft. Virtually ALL
types of nuclear armed ships experienced accidents or
"incidents," including aircraft carriers, submarines, destroyers,
cruisers and auxiliary ships.
Information about nuclear accidents during the Reagan [and Bush]
administration will hopefully surface in future F.O.I.A. actions.
DID YOU KNOW:
* U.S. and Soviet nuclear subs collided in the fall of 1986?
* "Three small NASA rockets were launched inadvertently June 9
(1987) during a severe storm when lighting activated their
ignitition systems"? (Aviation Week & Space Technology, June 15,
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