National Cancer Institute Continues Federal Government’s False Narrative about Trinity Test

Before the U.S. Army and the Manhattan Project exploded a one-hundred-ton pile of TNT on May 7, 1945 at the Trinity test site in south central New Mexico, the doctors were concerned about the impacts of radioactive fallout from the upcoming Trinity test that would occur on July 16th. In order to investigate the anticipated fallout and its distribution, the one-hundred-ton pile was spiked with plutonium from the Hanford site as a tracer.  That fallout data is not publicly available.

The doctors created evacuation plans that were not used for the communities around the Trinity site.  They established arbitrary and ever-changing radiological exposure standards that would lead to evacuation.  The first standard would require evacuation at 50 times the official exposure limit.  Quickly that arbitrary standard was increased to more than 800 times higher than the official exposure limit established two decades later.

After the Trinity test, Dr. Louis Hempelmann, Director of the Health Group at the Los Alamos site of the Manhattan Project, said some people “were probably over-exposed [to the Trinity test], but they couldn’t prove it and we couldn’t prove it.  So we just assumed that we got away with it.”  Thus began the false narrative that no one was harmed from the overexposure to radiation from the Trinity test.

Nevertheless, this week, the National Cancer Institute continued the 75-year old false narrative with the release of a collection of six studies under the title, Study to Estimate Radiation Doses and Cancer Risks Resulting from Radioactive Fallout from the Trinity Nuclear Test  On the morning of Tuesday, September 1st, the entire study was publicly released, with limited time to review it before the virtual briefing began.  While NCI said it would hold a second virtual briefing next week, many individuals and organizations plan to ask for more time to review the reports.

NCI claims that its study “provides the most comprehensive evaluation of the doses and risks from the Trinity detonation available today,” while acknowledging its significant limitations.  Those limitations impact data quality and the ability to assess cancer risk.  For instance, NCI reports that in 2017 it interviewed 210 New Mexicans over the age of 70 years about their diet, lifestyles, housing, sources of drinking water, and how much time they spent outside during the summer months.  That is an insignificant percentage of the estimated 580,000 people living in New Mexico in 1945.

Even so, NCI projected that between zero and 1,000 excess cancers would occur between 1945 and 2034.  NCI qualifies its projection by the statement, “Precise value[s] cannot be determined decades after exposure.”

  1. Wed. Sept. 9th beginning at 10 am, the NM Radioactive & Hazardous Materials Interim Committee meets via video conference to discuss LANL issues, receive an update about the KAFB Bulk Fuel Spill, and receive public comments around 3 pm. At 1:15 pm – Joni Arends, of CCNS will be on a panel with Beata Tsosie-Peña, of Tewa Women United; and Greg Mello, of the Los Alamos Study Group, about LANL Operations and Expansion Community Concerns.  To see the latest version of the agenda, instructions to participate via video conference, and the handouts, go to


  1. Th. Sept. 10th at 6 pm, the Nuclear Issues Study Group will host a presentation about the Holtec proposal to bring all the high-level radioactive nuclear waste to NM. Comments are due Tues. Sept. 22nd to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  This is your opportunity to learn more to Halt Holtec.


  1. Check out Stephanie Hiller’s recent article U.S. Patriarchy and the Bomb




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