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. 1/13/50: B-36 dropped nuclear weapon into Puget Sound, Washington. High explosive material detonated.
  2. 4/11/50: B-29 crashed into mountain in New Mexico.
  3. 7/13/50: B-50 crashed in Lebanon, Ohio; nuclear weapon's high explosive material detonated.
  4. 8/5/50: B-29 crashed at Travis AFB, California; nuclear weapon's high explosive material detonated.
  5. 3/10/56: B-47 disappeared with "two capsules of nuclear weapons material" over the Mediterranean Sea.
  6. 7/26/56: B-47 crashed into "storage igloo containing several nuclear weapons."
  7. 5/22/57: B-36 dropped nuclear bomb in New Mexico desert; high explosive material detonated, made crater 25' in diameter, 12' deep.
  8. 7/28/57: C-124 jettisoned and lost two nuclear weapons over the Atlantic.
  9. 10/11/57: B-47 crashed with nuclear weapon and capsule in Florida; "two low grade detonations."
  10. 1/31/58: B-47 crashed and burned with one nuclear weapon "in strike configuration ... some contamination."
  11. 2/5/58: B-47 collided with F-86 midair; jettisoned and lost nuclear weapon "five miles southeast of the mouth of the Savannah River (Georgia)."
  12. 3/11/58: B-47 accidentally jettisoned unarmed nuclear weapon at Florence, South Carolina. High explosive material detonated on impact.
  13. 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."
  14. 11/26/58: B-47 caught fire on ground, nuclear weapon board destroyed, in Louisiana.
  15. 1/18/59: F-100 caught fire while loaded with unarmed nuclear weapon at Pacific base.
  16. 7/6/59: C-124 crashed; nuclear weapon destroyed in Louisiana.
  17. 10/15/59: B-52 collided with KC-135 during refueling over Kentucky; two unarmed nuclear weapons were recovered.
  18. 6/7/60: Bomarc air defense missile in storage destroyed by explosion and fire in New Jersey.
  19. 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.
  20. 3/14/61: B-52 with two nuclear weapons crashed at Yuba City, California.
  21. 1/13/64: B-52D crashed at Cumberland City, Maryland, with two unarmed nuclear weapons on board.
  22. 12/5/64: Retrograde rocket of Minuteman ICBM on strategic alert accidentally fired during repairs in South Dakota.
  23. 12/8/64: B-58 crashed and nuclear weapon burned in Indiana; "contamination was limited to immediate area of crash and subsequently removed."
  24. 10/12/65: C-124 caught fire with nuclear weapons aboard in Ohio.
  25. 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.
  26. 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, 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
  27. 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.


* 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 alert?

* 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.


* 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, 1987.)


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