Close call! Outer Banks eyed as nuclear test site

“When the United States chose Nevada as the site for atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons four decades ago, Government officials knew the choice would mean that more people would be exposed to radiation than at an alternative site in North Carolina, a new study asserts.

“But officials chose the Nevada site because it was already under Government control and could be used sooner and because it was closer to bomb production plants….

“The study cites documents of the Atomic Energy Commission, the predecessor to the Department of Energy, from 1948 that it says show a preference for testing nuclear bombs on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where prevailing winds would carry the fallout over the ocean. But in the midst of the Cold War, the Government believed it could begin tests more quickly in Nevada, because the site was already in military hands.”

— From “Study Says U.S. Rejected Safer Nuclear Test Site” in the New York Times (May 17, 1991)

As Rob Christensen reminds N&O readers, North Carolina would suffer an even scarier nuclear moment in 1961.

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