1:50 USS independence next to the Nagato before Test Able 2:20 target ships mapped 4:14 The scientists and samples 6:00 Radio controlled drones 7:00 Manhattan project scientists at Kwajalein 9:40 dropping of the bomb 14:31 diffused cloud “dangerous radioactive particles in the air had become so diffused it was no longer a danger to the area.” 15:52 camera on bikini showing shock wave. 17:20 map of what ships got hit as they dropped the bomb off target. Independence noted 18:55 Independence seen just after explosion when the support ships entered the lagoon. 21:54 animals 24:31 Skate stating the inside were damaged, so they went inside it. 25:21 USS Independence 27:34 Baker Test, second test underwater explosion. 40:00 USS Independence
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DISTRICT MEDICAL OFFICE TWELFTH NAVAL DISTRICT SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA 10 September 1946 CONFIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM
To: Commander, San Francisco Naval Shipyard
Subj: Cleaning Salt Water Systems
The following test procedure to be used on the cleaning of non-target ships; USS LAFFEY, USS BARTON, and any other ship participating in the Bikini operations. Accurate records are to be kept of all operations and a copy forwarded by Air Mail Special Delivery to Rear Admiral T.A. Solberg, Code 180, BuShips. A copy will also be furnished to Captain W. E. Walsh, USN, District Medical Office, 50 Fell Street, San Francisco, California.
(a) A solution of citrate acid and ammonium hydroxide for cleaning of salt water piping systems (strength to be determined) is to be entered into the system on the out-board leg of the suction side of the suction pump. All outlets except one of the crew’s water closets are to be closed. This one outlet is to allow only a minimum flow. Then at each of the-other outlets of the system, water is to be drawn off until presence of the citrate acid and ammonium hydroxide solution is definitely found to be in that section of piping. Flow through the system is to be continuous co the one open 1 outlet. The citrate acid and ammonium hydroxide solution is to be continuously entered into the system from the outboard side of the suction pumps, (overflow from the outlet may be allowed to enter the harbor). Approximate time of Operation to be one hour.
[Later work determined that radiation was concentrated in the acid solution and therefore the overflow was radioactive and dumped into the Bay at Hunters Point Shipyard]
(b) Second step of the cleaning operation is to completely flush out the entire system with fresh water and concentration of standard bailer compound, one (1) pound to twenty (20) gallons of water. (c) Continuous records of the readings of the system are to be kept.
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3. (a) Samples of copper-nickel and iron piping of salt water systems are to be tested in three different concentrations of hydrochloric acid solutions of one half normal, three-quarters normal, and one normal. The pipes samples are to be tested in small sections of about three inches in length. (b) Similar samples are to be forwarded to Dr. Scott, University of California.[Dr. K.G. Scott, UC Berkeley Radiation Laboratory] (c) The object of these tests is-to determine the effect of these various solutions on the cleaning marine growth, rust and other foreign matter on the inside of the pipes. Quantitative measurements of the marine growth, rust and other foreign matter on the interior of the pipe should be made before and during the testing.
(a) Upon the first cleaning of heat transfer units, principally evaporators, or distilling plants. On such heat transfer equipment where scale is formed by deposits from salt water systems, the scale should be cleaned as much as possible by using thermal shock treatment. (b) All scale that has cracked off the piping shall be thoroughly “removed, using standard safety precautions. (c) A solution of muriatic acid shall then be used to further complete the removal of scale. (d) A monitor shall be present on opening up the heat exchange unit at all times when following the above procedure. (e) All scale removed should be segregated and dumped at sea.
Cleaning of the ship’s side in drydock shall be accomplished in the following manner: (a) The ship’s side shall be kept moist and marine growth shall be scraped off. The growth shall be kept wet while scraping down. All materials scraped from the side of the ship shall be cleaned from the drydock and segregated. The segregated material shall be dumped at sea. (b) Wet sandblasting, using standard equipment, is to be then used for removing the remainder of paint on the hull. The sand is also to be dumped at sea.
T. A. SOLBERG Rear Admiral, USN.
V W. S. MAXWELL Captain, USN By direction
Source: OPERATION CROSSROADS. RADIOLOGICAL DECONTAMINATION OF TARGET AND NON-TARGET VESSELS. VOLUME 2 , DNA ltr, 21 Apr 1982, THIS PAGE IS UNCLASSIFIED, DIRECTOR OF SHIPTECHNICAL INSPECTION REPORT. Radiological Decontamination of Target and Non-Target Vessels, VOLUME 2 OF 3.
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[It is important to note that the safe radiation levels at the time did not put into consideration the cancer hazard and all they were concerned about is preventing radiation sickness. All of the sailors involved in this operation were later compensated with a settlement from the United States after Congressional Hearings in the Clinton Administration, the ones still alive of course.]
DECONTAMINATION OF TARGET VESSELS
1. As a result of Test Able on 1 July, no extensive deposit of long life radioactive fission products or alpha emitters was found on the target vessels. Radioactivity existing was induced type and was of very short half-life. Within a period of twenty four hours after fission of the bomb the level of radioactivity permitted reoccupation of surviving targets, with the exception of concrete barge YO-160, without radiological hazard. Consequently no decontamination of target vessels was required. Continue reading “OPERATION CROSSROADS, RADIOLOGICAL DECONTAMINATION OF TARGET AND NON- TARGET VESSELS Part I”→
Operation Crossroads (1946) was two atomic bomb tests where the second one was exploded under water creating a radioactive steam cloud that spread over all of the ships, including the support ships thus irradiating about 80% of the US Pacific Fleet at the time. The Navy had set up a set of Target Ships including the Saratoga and Independence Aircraft Carriers to see what effect a nuclear explosion would have on the ships. The explosion irradiated the water in the lagoon the equivalent of 5000 tons of radium.
Unfortunately they miscalculated and thus irradiated all of the ships present which had to be cleaned immediately to be put back in action. Thus the ships had to go to US Ports and be cleaned by sandblasting and the Navy decided to dump the contaminated sandblast sands directly into the harbors of the Navy Bases. 145 out of 207 ships were sent to be decontaminated, the others were scuttled. Airplanes were sent to their respective bases to be washed down.
The Navy entered the Lagoon with the support ships but had to retreat when the radiation levels exceeded the fatal level and the ships ran out, some went out to sea to escape. One hour after the blast the Battleship “New York” had a reading of 1200 r/hr which is 3 times the fatal dose. Here is a video of the scene, showing the support ships wash down the decks of the target ships like it was a carwash, the sailors completely unaware of the danger of a nuclear blast. https://youtu.be/BKH437o14vA
145 out of 207 ships were sent to be decontaminated, the others were scuttled. There were also airplanes that were affected and they had to return to their bases to be decontaminated. The ships were sent to the following ports to be cleaned:
Bremerton and Puget Sound
Hunters Point Shipyard – San Francisco
The Caroline Islands
Treasure Island – San Francisco
The ships had to be sandblasted to remove the paint in order to clean the ships. Because the non target ships used their pumps and hoses to clean the other ships or operated inside the lagoon, their water lines, pumps and evaporators (used to produce clean water) were contaminated and in most cases they could clean them with acid which was also dumped directly into these harbors. At the time the Navy was only concerned with the effects of the acids dumped into the harbors and they really didn’t care about dumping radiation into the water where civilians fish. One thing they found out fast was that copper piping tends to hold the radiation directly in the copper and so those systems had to be scrapped and all the copper piping had to be replaced.
In 1989 the EPA put out a report on the cleanup of Mare Island, Alameda Air station and Hunters Point and they state that they used samples that dug in 4 inches deep to determine radiation. They cleared all of these bases for nuclear radiation. Problem is that in order to fool a geiger counter all you need is a few feet of dirt. You can cover it up all you want, the radiation is still there. Also to test for Alpha and Beta Particles you have drill down and bring up a core of the materials which are them chemically separated to isolate the radioactive elements and then determine the radioactivity based on the contents, not a geiger counter.
Here is the official video of the project: https://archive.org/details/MISC1323OperationCrossroads1948 No description at the National Archives. Castle Films produced this film for the U.S. military — “Operation Crossroads” US Army film # MISC-1323 and US Navy film # MN 5345. Description from Armed Forces Films for Public and Television Use: “A documentary of the Able and Baker blasts of the Atomic Bomb Test at Bikini, produced by Joint Army-Navy Task Force One.” National Archives Identifier: 88210 source file isn’t in the greatest shape.
Video detailing the Nuclear safety at the blast. Notice the officers checking the status of their geiger counters using a radiation source. Similar sources were found buried at San Francisco’s Treasure Island thus causing the site to become an EPA Superfund Nuclear Radiation Site.
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