Pittsburg California Radiation Experiments, spreading radioactive sand onto barracks, lawns and streets of the former Camp Stoneman Base to train Sailors how to clean up after an atomic strike.

This article will be added onto as I post the supporting links. It is a huge story explaining how they spread radioactive contaminant how they mixed it using radioactive materials to create a situation where the radiation levels were at 10,000 rads per hour to simulate the effect of one hour after a nuclear blast.

Aerial view of Camp Stoneman on October 11, 1947 US Army From the National Archives Records Administration, College Park, Maryland, Cartographic Division, for the two aerials.
Stoneman II Test of Reclamation Performance Volume III performance Characteristics of Dry Decontamination Procedures; Research and Development Technical Report USRNDL – TR-336 6 June 1959, Figure A-1, P. 60

The problem here, is that the radiation levels were set artificially to be extremely high requiring crews to shift every few minutes in order to clean up the site but if you look at the maps, the areas involved are enormous. So the number of crews necessary to clean the site are in the hundreds. These tests were national events encompassing military personnel from many different services.

Stoneman I

Stoneman II

Stoneman III

Modern Day Pittsburg California which was the site of three major radiation experiments where the US Navy Radiological Defense Laboratory conducted tests by purposely spreading radiation onto the grounds, yards and streets of the former Army Base which was used in World War II to ship out to the Pacific. In the images above are an aerial view of the base in 1947 and the tests conducted in 1957 on the site which encompassed the irradiation of the area enclosed in the dark lines. They were conducted in 1953, 57 and 59 and in the early 60s the land was sold off by the General Services Administration where contractors came in and took the structures apart and used them in housing construction at the time. The city of Pittsburg grew into the land.

Radiation Tests
The USNRDL came up with the idea of purposely spreading radioactive materials onto barracks, including roofs, walls, yards and roads of military bases in San Francisco, San Bruno, Pittsburg, and Dublin California as well as Camp McCoy in Wisconsin and in Alaska. At first they used nuclear products which meant Strontium, Cesium and Cobalt which had half lives of 90, 30 and 5 years respectively and were sprayed onto the barracks at Hunters Point Shipyard with water and then washed off with water. This test didn’t do much but irradiate the base.

At San Bruno they used Radio Tantalum which has a half life of about 110 days and then decays into the Gamma emitter Tungsten, The Former San Bruno Navy Base is now the home of Youtube and Walmart E-Commerce Headquarters. The levels of radiation that they were using was in the order of 2000-30000 R per hour to simulate the effects of an atomic bomb detonating over Telegraph Hill after about an hour.

At Fort Belvoir Virginia, the Army had conducted tests where they raised the level of radiation on a field to determine how far radiation entered scale models of houses but they used Strontium 90 which has a half life of 90 years and they built bunkers around the site to safely measure the radiation exposure inside the models. They soon realized this was a mistake as cleaning it up was going to involve washing it down with fire hoses into the Potomac. Today the only area on the base large enough to be the site, is where they store their lawn equipment. So somewhere on the base is a missing radiation field.

In 1953 everything changed when they realized that fallout even of elements that emit the Beta particles cause burns when one of the atomic tests turned out to be larger than they thought and rained down fallout onto Entewiac Island and then they decided to use radioactive elements that decayed into stable elements in a few days instead of decades.

The good news is that for Stoneman tests II and III they used an isotope of Lanthanum 140 that decayed into Barium over a few days. The bad news is that the studies done in the late 1940s and early 1950s are either still classified or missing. and Stoneman 1 was in 1953.

In the 60s they moved the irradiating of large areas to Camp Parks in Dublin where buildings used to spread radiation, included the gymnasium which according to the base when they transferred the property to the city of dublin in 2009 failed to report its use by the USNRDL. It is inexcusable. A building where they rained down radioactive materials including Strontium, Cesium, and Cobalt to test among other things the resilience of house roofs, was torn down and given no radiological clearance.

Last year the Alameda Fire Department trained on the site, burning down the buildings to train its fire-fighters. The buildings were irradiated by these tests. After the Navy stopped the USNRDL in San Francisco, Stanford Research Institute (SRI) took over the facility for their own research and liability. the fire-fighters need to know just how much radiation they absorbed in the training. Radioactive elements have a tendency to get into the air when exposed to temperatures in fires. This is why they do not allow anyone on the Nevada Test Site as a car engine can stir up the radioactive particles in the dirt and get inhaled. The amounts necessary for killing a person of inhaled radioactive particles are so extremely small that you would not even realize it until it was too late.


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