The Nightmare of Nuclear Testing Lives On July 26, 2022

New Website from ICAN

Mary Dickson is a “downwinder” from Salt Lake City, a thyroid cancer survivor who watched her sister, friends and peers suffer and die from cancers linked to nuclear weapons testing during the 1950s and 1960s.

Dickson is one of the video storytellers on the new ICAN website, Nuclear Test Impacts, a comprehensive global resource on America’s rush for nuclear dominance beginning with the Trinity blast on July 16, 1945. Trinity was the world’s first nuclear explosion and a test run for the attack on Hiroshima a month later, August 9, 1945.


The Trinity explosion, 16 milliseconds after detonation. Height is 660 feet.

Victims of the Cold War

From 1945 to 1962, the U.S. conducted nearly 200 above-ground nuclear weapons development tests. The jet stream winds carried those radioactive isotopes across the country, endangering millions of Americans, as shown below in the disturbing map of airborne contamination created by researcher Richard Miller.

Based on Atomic Energy Commission records on radiation dispersal, Miller’s map is widely used by downwinders to underscore their point—that the Cold War did have victims: tens of thousands of Americans who succumbed to the wind-swept radioactive isotopes or who worked in the nuclear industry, starting with uranium miners.

It wasn’t only Americans in the line of fire. More than 2,000 nuclear weapons have been detonated since 1945, “impacting communities around the world,” according to the ICAN site.


Areas of the United States crossed by two or more clouds from atmospheric nuclear tests in Nevada between 1951 and 1962. Map created by researcher Richard Miller based on AEC records on radiation dispersal from weapons testing.

U.S. Leads the World

According to the website, the U.S. has detonated the most nuclear weapons 1,032 in total. The Soviet Union, 715; France, 210; China and the United Kingdom, 45; North Korea, 6; and India and Pakistan, 2.

The website, launched by Arjun Makhijani of IEER and Tilman Ruff, a cofounder of ICAN, includes comprehensive data analysis and interactive mapping, as well as first-person stories and videos by radiation survivors and commentary from leading researchers.



Nuclear test seen from Las Vegas.

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