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SCIENTISTS, THE PUBLIC, THE STATE, AND THE DEBATE OVER THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND HUMAN HEALTH EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR TESTING IN BRITAIN, 1950–1958*

  • CHRISTOPH LAUCHT (a1)
Abstract

This article uses the debate over environmental and human health effects of nuclear testing to shed light on the ambivalent relationship between scientists, the public, and the state in Britain during the crucial, but often overlooked, period leading up to the first cycle of anti-nuclear weapons mass protests. In this, it examines how members of Britain's main organization of nuclear scientists – the Atomic Scientists’ Association (ASA) – used their expertise in their engagement with both the public and the state to assess these effects of fallout from nuclear testing. What made the ASA stand out from other groups of the atomic scientists’ movement was its ambivalent relationship with the government. This was, by and large, the result of several ASA members’ occupational backgrounds in government employment and the association's self-imposed adherence to an ambiguous principle of scientific ‘objectivity’ in political matters. The ASA's role in the debate over fallout thus exemplifies a basic dilemma that many scientists in Britain and other Western liberal democracies faced between their roles as ‘objective’ and ‘unpolitical’ scientific experts, on the one hand, and socially responsible scientists, on the other, illustrating the ambivalent position of experts and uses of their knowledge.

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Department of History and Classics, Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea, sa2 8ppc.laucht@swansea.ac.uk
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*

The author wishes to thank Jan-Henrik Meyer, Astrid Mignon-Kirchhof, and the participants of the Berlin-Brandenburg Colloquium on Environmental History at Humboldt University, Berlin, for their comments on an early version of this paper, as well as Emma Cavell, Martin Johnes, Adam Mosley, and the article's anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier drafts.

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1 Dee Garrison, Bracing for Armageddon: why civil defense never worked (Oxford, 2006), pp. 19–23. On the general history of the H-bomb, see Richard Rhodes, Dark sun: the making of the hydrogen bomb (New York, NY, 1995).

2 Lorna Arnold, with Katherine Pyne, Britain and the H-bomb (Basingstoke, 2001), pp. 129–91, 240–3; Lorna Arnold and Mark Smith, Britain, Australia, and the bomb: the nuclear tests and their aftermath (rev. edn, Basingstoke, 2006), pp. 29–48, 49–72, 87–105, 131–71, 189–214, 254–67; Crawford, John, ‘“A political H-bomb”: New Zealand and the British thermonuclear weapon tests of 1957–1958’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 26 (1998), pp. 127–50; Roger Cross, ‘British nuclear tests and the indigenous people of Australia’, in Douglas Holdstock and Frank Barnaby, eds., The British nuclear weapons programme, 1952–2002 (London, 2003), pp. 76–90; Jacobs, Robert A., ‘Nuclear conquistadors: military colonialism in nuclear test site selection during the Cold War’, Asian Journal of Peacebuilding, 1 (2013), pp. 157–77, at pp. 167–9; Mark D. Merlin and Ricardo M. Gonzalez, ‘Environmental impacts of nuclear testing in remote Oceania, 1946–1996’, in J. R. Mitchell and Corinna R. Unger, eds., Environmental histories of the Cold War (Washington, DC, and Cambridge, 2010), pp. 167–202; Sue Rabbitt Roff, ‘Long-term health effects in UK test veterans’, in Holdstock and Barnaby, eds., British nuclear weapons programme, pp. 101–14, at p. 101.

3 ‘Warning by scientists of hydrogen bomb effects: statesmen urged to renounce war’, Times, 11 July 1955, p. 6.

4 Joseph Rotblat, Science and world affairs: history of the Pugwash Conferences (London, 1962), pp. 6–7.

5 H. S. W. Massey and H. R. Allen, ‘H-bomb tests: statement on strontium hazards’, New Scientist, 25 Apr. 1957, pp. 39–40.

6 On the relationship between scientists, the state, and the public, see Wang, Jessica, ‘Scientists and the problem of the public in Cold War America, 1945–1960’, Osiris, 2nd ser., 17 (2002), pp. 323–47.

7 On the political use of nuclear knowledge, see Lawrence Badash, A nuclear winter's tale: science and politics in the 1980s (Cambridge, MA, 2009).

8 Toshihiro Higuchi, ‘Radioactive fallout, the politics of risk, and the making of global environmental crisis, 1954–1963’ (Ph.D. thesis, Georgetown University, 2011), pp. 10–11.

9 Thorpe, Charles, ‘Disciplining experts: scientific authority and liberal democracy in the Oppenheimer case’, Social Studies of Science, 32 (2002), pp. 525–62, at p. 528.

10 Ian Clark, Nuclear diplomacy and the special relationship: Britain's deterrent and America, 1957–1962 (Oxford, 1994); Kendrick Oliver, Kennedy, Macmillan, and the nuclear test-ban debate, 1961–1963 (Basingstoke, 1998); Richard Moore, Nuclear illusion, nuclear reality: Britain, the United States, and nuclear weapons, 1958–1964 (Basingstoke, 2010); John R. Walker, British nuclear weapons and the test ban, 1954–1973: Britain, the United States, weapons policy, and nuclear testing: tensions and contradictions (Farnham, 2010).

11 Arnold, Britain and the H-bomb; Arnold and Smith, Britain, Australia, and the bomb; Crawford, ‘“A political H-bomb”’, pp. 127–50; Cross, ‘British nuclear tests’, pp. 76–90; Merlin and Gonzalez, ‘Environmental impacts’, pp. 167–202; Roff, ‘Long-term health effects’, pp. 101–14; Joan Smith, Clouds of deceit: the deadly legacy of Britain's bomb tests (London, 1985).

12 This trend has existed for decades. Cf. Frank Parkin, Middle-class radicalism: the social bases of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (Manchester, 1968); Arthur J. R. Groom, British thinking about nuclear weapons (London, 1974); Richard Taylor, Against the bomb: the British peace movement, 1958–1965 (Oxford, 1988); Holger Nehring, Politics of security: British and West German protest movements and the early Cold War, 1945–1970 (Oxford, 2013).

13 See in particular the pioneering study by Jones, Greta, ‘The mushroom-shaped cloud: British scientists’ opposition to nuclear weapons policy, 1947–1957’, Annals of Science, 43 (1986), pp. 126. For a notable exception to this trend, see Higuchi, ‘Radioactive fallout’.

14 Christoph Laucht, Elemental Germans: Klaus Fuchs, Rudolf Peierls, and the making of British nuclear culture, 1939–1959 (Basingstoke, 2012), pp. 133–50; Alice Kimball Smith, A peril and a hope: the scientists’ movement in America, 1945–1947 (Chicago, IL, 1965), p. 238.

15 Peierls, Rudolf, ‘The British Atomic Scientists’ Association’, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS), 6 (1950), p. 59.

16 Jones, ‘Mushroom-shaped cloud’, p. 7; Laucht, Elemental Germans, pp. 131–2, 135.

17 Fishenden to Schonland, 10 Feb. 1958, The National Archives (TNA), AB 27/6.

18 Rudolf Peierls, Bird of passage: recollections of a physicist (Princeton, NJ, 1985), p. 283.

19 Laucht, Elemental Germans, pp. 159–64, 167.

20 Massey and Allen, ‘H-bomb tests’, pp. 39–40.

21 Robert A. Divine, Blowing on the wind: the nuclear test ban debate, 1954–1960 (New York, NY, 1978), pp. 184–5.

22 Robert Knox, ‘Science and its martyrs: pioneers’ need of protection’, Times, 29 Mar. 1921, p. 9; ‘An x-ray crisis: the danger to reproduction’, Times, 31 Mar. 1921, p. 8; ‘X-rays and cell life: lines of research’, Times, 1 Apr. 1921, p. 5; ‘X-ray dangers: how to protect workers’, Times, 24 June 1921, p. 12.

23 Campos, Luis, ‘The birth of living radium’, Representations, 97 (2007), pp. 127; Marjorie C. Malley, Radioactivity: a history of a mysterious science (Oxford, 2011), pp. 169–72; Spencer R. Weart, The rise of nuclear fear (Cambridge, MA, 2012), p. 30.

24 Barton C. Hacker, The dragon's tail: radiation safety in the Manhattan Project, 1942–1946 (Berkeley, CA, 1992); J. Samuel Walker, Permissible dose: a history of radiation protection in the twentieth century (Berkeley, CA, 2000), p. 9.

25 This quote stems from the first part of the document: Otto Frisch and Rudolf Peierls, ‘Memorandum on the properties of a radioactive “super-bomb”’, n.d., p. 2, TNA, AB 1/210. On the importance of the document, see Arnold, Lorna, ‘The history of nuclear weapons: the Frisch–Peierls memorandum on the possible construction of atomic bombs of February 1940’, Cold War History, 3 (2003), pp. 111–26.

26 Ferenc M. Szasz, The day the sun rose twice: the story of the Trinity Site nuclear explosion July 16, 1945 (Albuquerque, NM, 1984), pp. 115–29, 134.

27 ‘Atomic bomb in use against Japs’, Daily Mirror, 7 Aug. 1945, p. 1; ‘The bomb that has changed the world’, Daily Express, 7 Aug. 1945, p. 1; ‘First atomic bomb hits Japan’, Times, 7 Aug. 1945, p. 4; ‘Scientists whose research gave Britain and America the secrets of atomic energy’, Picture Post, 25 Aug. 1945, pp. 12–13; ‘Atomic bomb used on Japan’, Manchester Guardian, 7 Aug. 1945, p. 5.

28 ‘The atom bomb’, Aug. 1945, file report, 2277, Mass Observation Archive, University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom; George H. Gallup, ed., The Gallup international public opinion polls: Great Britain, 1937–1975 (2 vols., New York, NY, 1976), i, pp. 132, 183–4.

29 ‘Public reaction to the atom bomb’, 24 Aug. 1945, file report, 2272, Mass Observation Archive.

30 Laucht, Elemental Germans, pp. 128–34.

31 ‘First observations of the atomic bomb damage’, Manchester Guardian, 2 July 1946, p. 5; ‘Animals in Bikini fleet’, Manchester Guardian, 5 July 1946, p. 5; ‘Holocaust at Bikini’, Times, 2 July 1946, p. 4.

32 ‘Bikini’, Times, 1 July 1946, p. 5.

33 The British Mission to Japan, The effects of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki (London, 1946), pp. 15, 21; ‘Hiroshima to Bikini’, Manchester Guardian, 2 July 1946, p. 4; ‘The last chance’, Daily Mirror, 29 June 1946, p. 2.

34 David Bradley, No place to hide (Boston, MA, 1948; London, 1949), pp. 169–82.

35 ‘United States to work on hydrogen bomb’, Times, 1 Feb. 1950, p. 4; ‘A possible destroyer of the world illustrated diagrammatically’, Illustrated London News (ILN), 4 Feb. 1950, pp. 176–7; ‘Truman orders “go ahead” on H-bomb’, Daily Mirror, 1 Feb. 1950, pp. 1, 27; ‘U.S. starts on the bomb’, Daily Express, 1 Feb. 1950, p. 1; ‘Work to begin on hydrogen bomb’, Manchester Guardian, 1 Feb. 1950, p. 7.

36 ‘Biological hazards of atomic energy’, Nature, 167 (3 Mar. 1951), pp. 335–8, at p. 335; Alexander Haddow, ed., Biological hazards of atomic energy: being the papers read at the conference convened by the Institute of Biology and the Atomic Scientists’ Association October 1950 (Oxford, 1952).

37 Arnold, James R., ‘The hydrogen-cobalt bomb’, BAS, 6 (1950), pp. 290–2; William Laurence, ‘Ending of all life by hydrogen bomb held a possibility’, New York Times, 27 Feb. 1950, pp. 1, 7; Nabarro, Frank R. N., ‘The possible scale of radioactive contamination by the fission products of uranium 235’, Atomic Scientists’ News (ASN), 3 (1950), pp. 166–8; Derek Wragge Morley, ‘Can man survive the hydrogen bomb?’, Picture Post, 18 Feb. 1950, pp. 31–7, at pp. 31, 36–7. P. D. Smith explores the history of this weapon in Doomsday men: the real Dr Strangelove and the dream of the superweapon (London, 2007).

38 ‘Atomic weather’, May 1947, file report, 2485, Mass Observation Archive; Gallup, ed., Gallup international public opinion polls, i, pp. 350, 480; Cyril Ramsay Jones, ‘Has our weather been atomised?’, Picture Post, 29 Aug. 1953, p. 18; Charles-Noël Martin, ‘Do the bombs affect the weather?’, Picture Post, 2 Apr. 1955, pp. 33, 35; P. A. Sheppard, ‘Radioactive fall-out and the weather’, New Scientist, 15 Aug. 1957, pp. 23–5; Kenneth Walker, ‘Monkeying with the weather’, Picture Post, 21 Jan. 1956, p. 46.

39 Robert A. Jacobs, The dragon's tail: Americans face the atomic age (Amherst, MA, 2010), p. 10.

40 Gallup, ed., Gallup international public opinion polls, i, p. 320.

41 Divine, Blowing on the wind, pp. 3–35; Jones, ‘Mushroom-shaped cloud’, pp. 13–18.

42 Bingham, Adrian, ‘“The monster”?: the British popular press and nuclear culture, 1945–early 1960s’, British Journal for the History of Science, 45 (2012), pp. 609–24, at pp. 616–18.

43 ‘Radioactive fish’, Times, 20 Mar. 1954, p. 5.

44 Cassandra, ‘Dearly beloved bomb’, Daily Mirror, 29 Mar. 1954, p. 7; Cassandra, ‘A child's guide to the bomb’, Daily Mirror, 6 Apr. 1954, p. 9.

45 Bingham, ‘“The monster”’, pp. 617–18; ‘The hydrogen bomb that “misfired”’, ILN, 10 Apr. 1954, pp. 586–7.

46 Chatterjee, Santimay, ‘Radioactive ashes over Calcutta and a method of dating a nuclear explosion’, Atomic Scientists’ Journal (ASJ), 4 (1955), pp. 273–8; Genetic effects of nuclear explosions’, ASJ, 4 (1955), p. 202; Knapp, Harold A., ‘South Woodley looks at the H-bomb’, ASJ, 4 (1955), pp. 261–72; Nikushiwaki, Yasushi, ‘Effects of H-bomb tests in 1954’, ASJ, 4 (1955), pp. 279–88. Note that the ASN was renamed the ASJ in September 1953.

47 BAS, ‘Memo: international congress of scientists’, 29 May 1954, the Papers of Professor Sir Joseph Rotblat, the Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge (RTBT), K. 112.

48 ‘Notes on meeting of sub-committee on international conference on 28th October, 1954. (Mrs. Lonsdale, Walton, Hodgson, and Rotblat)’, n.d., RTBT, K. 114; Committee I, Hazards arising from the use of atomic energy in peace and war’, BAS, 13 (1957), p. 251; Rotblat to Rabinowitch, 29 Oct. 1954, RTBT, K. 114; H. R. Allen, ‘Minutes of the 87th council meeting, held in the Physics Library, Imperial College, London, S.W.7. on Saturday February 2nd, 1957 at 10.45 a.m.’, 3 Feb. 1957, pp. 2–3, RTBT, K. 124.

49 Gallup, ed., Gallup international public opinion polls, i, p. 323.

50 Jones, ‘Mushroom-shaped cloud’, p. 15.

51 ‘Coventry's vote on the hydrogen bomb’, Times, 7 Apr. 1954, p. 8; ‘“Duty of civil defence”’, Times, 12 Apr. 1954, p. 8; ‘Coventry to discuss Home Office letter’, Times, 13 Apr. 1954, p. 3; Frank Raine-Allen, Darwen, K. D. Courtney, C. W. Judd, and L. O. Lyne, ‘The hydrogen bomb’, Times, 9 Apr. 1954, p. 9; Tim Raison, ‘Who is right in the row about civil defence?’, Picture Post, 16 Oct. 1954, pp. 20–1, 53.

52 Gallup, ed., Gallup international public opinion polls, i, pp. 224, 310, 324–5.

53 Matthew Grant, After the bomb: civil defence and nuclear war in Britain, 1945–1968 (Basingstoke, 2010), pp. 77–81.

54 John Baylis, Ambiguity and deterrence: British nuclear strategy, 1945–1964 (Oxford, 1995), p. 180.

55 Cmnd 9391, Statement on defence 1955: presented by the minister of defence to parliament by command of Her Majesty, February 1955 (London, 1955), p. 1.

56 John B. S. Haldane, ‘H-bomb dust’, Picture Post, 23 Apr. 1955, pp. 11–12; ‘Science must warn mankind’, Picture Post, 23 Apr. 1955, p. 13; Gallup, ed., Gallup international public opinion polls, i, pp. 345, 346, 348, 357.

57 Gallup, ed., Gallup international public opinion polls, i, p. 263.

58 Baylis also makes a point about economic considerations in Ambiguity and deterrence, pp. 245–50.

59 Peter Hennessy, The secret state: preparing for the worst, 1945–2010 (2nd edn, London, 2010), pp. 163–77.

60 Hughes, Jeff, ‘The Strath report: Britain confronts the H-bomb, 1954–1955’, History and Technology, 19 (2003), pp. 257–75, at p. 263

61 Smith, Melissa, ‘“What to do if it happens”: planners, pamphlets, and propaganda in the age of the H-bomb’, Endeavour, 33 (2009), pp. 60–4, at p. 62.

62 Home Office, The hydrogen bomb (London, 1957).

63 ‘The hydrogen bomb’, ILN, 5 July 1958, pp. 24–5, at p. 25.

64 ‘How the government is preparing for atomic warfare’, ILN, 18 July 1949, p. 839; ‘“Civil defence is an essential fourth arm”’, ILN, 3 Dec. 1949, pp. 844–5; ‘Civil defence in the Atomic Age’, ILN, 17 Feb. 1951, p. 242; John Stobbs, ‘Civil defence: do we need it?’, Picture Post, 4 Oct. 1952, pp. 27–9.

65 The atom bomb and civil defence’, ASN, 2 (1948), pp. 62–4; Atomic weapons and civil defence’, ASN, 3 (1949), pp. 1016, at pp. 12–13. Editorial’, ASN, 1 (1952), pp. 181–2; Allen, E. C., ‘The assessment of atomic casualties’, ASN, 1 (1952), pp. 184–92; Marley, W. G., ‘Radioactivity and civil defence’, ASN, 1 (1952), pp. 193–7; Arnott, D. G., ‘Atomic warfare: the biological component’, ASN, 1 (1952), pp. 198209; Frankau, Claude, ‘The casualty service’, ASN, 1 (1952), pp. 210–14; Harford, Sidney L., ‘Civil defence: administration and organisation’, ASN, 1 (1952), pp. 215–20.

66 Grant, Matthew, ‘Home defence and the Sandys defence white paper, 1957’, Journal of Strategic Studies, 31 (2008), pp. 925–49.

67 Oliver, Kennedy, Macmillan, and the nuclear test-ban debate, p. 2.

68 Maguire, Richard, ‘“Never a credible weapon”: nuclear cultures in British government during the era of the H-bomb’, British Journal for the History of Science, 45 (2012), pp. 519–33.

69 Lorna Arnold, Windscale 1957: anatomy of a nuclear accident (2nd edn, Basingstoke, 1995), pp. xxi–xxii.

70 Central Office of Information, Nuclear energy in Britain (1957; repr. London, 1960), pp. 41–8; Kenneth Jay, Britain's atomic factories: the story of atomic energy production in Britain (London, 1954), pp. 55–67; Kenneth Jay, Harwell: the atomic energy research establishment, 1946–1951 (London and New York, NY, 1952), pp. 56–65; Atoms at work (United Kingdom, 1952); Atomic achievement (United Kingdom, 1956); Building for the nuclear age (United Kingdom, 1960).

71 Parliamentary debates (Commons), vol. 539, 29 Mar. 1955, col. 197.

72 Lord Salisbury, ‘Cabinet: nuclear and allied radiations, memorandum by the lord president of the council’, 1 June 1956, pp. 1–2, TNA, CAB 129/81; D. A. G. Galton, ‘Haddow, Sir Alexander (1907–1976)’, Oxford dictionary of national biography (ODNB).

73 Cmd 9780, Medical Research Council (MRC), The hazards to man of nuclear and allied radiations: presented by the lord president of the council to parliament by command of Her Majesty, 1956 (London, 1956), p. 80.

74 See, for example, ‘Hazards in radiation’, Times, 13 June 1956, p. 10.

75 Selwyn Lloyd, ‘Cabinet: nuclear tests, memorandum by the secretary of state for foreign affairs’, 1 June 1956, pp. 1–2, TNA, CAB 129/81.

76 Norman Brook, ‘Cabinet minutes, CM (56) 40th meeting (7 June 1956)’, in Norman Brook, ‘Cabinet minutes, CM (56) 37th meeting – CM (56) 104th meeting (17 May 1956–20 December 1956)’, TNA, CAB 195/15.

77 Lloyd, ‘Cabinet: nuclear tests’, p. 1; Salisbury, ‘Cabinet: nuclear and allied radiations’, pp. 1–2, TNA, CAB 129/81; Libby, Willard F., ‘Radioactive strontium fallout’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 42 (1956), pp. 365–90; United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), ‘Report of the UNSCEAR’, general assembly: thirteenth session, supplement no. 17 (A/3838), New York, NY, 1958, p. 1.

78 Willard F. Libby, ‘The facts about A-bomb fallout’, United States News and World Report, 25 Mar. 1955, pp. 21–6; ‘Atomic tests aftermath’, Times, 22 Mar. 1955, p. 6.

79 Lapp, Ralph E., ‘Radioactive fall-out’, BAS, 11 (1955), pp. 206–9; ‘Triple atomic bomb’, Times, 14 June 1955, p. 6.

80 Rabinowitch, Eugene, ‘Editorial’, BAS, 11 (1955), pp. 314–16, 343.

81 ‘A report by the United States Atomic Energy Commission on the effects of high-yield nuclear explosions’, 5 Feb. 1955, p. 8; Home Office, Civil Defence Department, Intelligence Branch, ‘CD information bulletin no. 1/1955. subject: publicity given in the United States of America to radioactive fall-out’, 14 Jan. 1955, pp. 1–2; Robertson to Strath, 4 Jan. 1955, all in TNA, CAB 21/4053; Arnold, Britain and the H-bomb, p. 112; Hughes, ‘Strath report’, pp. 263, 269.

82 Ball, Simon J., ‘Military nuclear relations between the United States and Great Britain under the terms of the McMahon Act, 1946–1958’, Historical Journal, 38 (1995), pp. 439–54; Septimus H. Paul, Nuclear rivals: Anglo-American relations, 1941–1952 (Columbus, OH, 2000), pp. 94–5.

83 Lloyd, ‘Cabinet: nuclear tests’, p. 1.

84 Brook, ‘Cabinet minutes, CM (56) 40th meeting (7 June 1956)’; Michael Egan, Barry Commoner and the science of survival: the remaking of American environmentalism (Cambridge, MA, 2007), p. 52; Oliver, Kennedy, Macmillan, and the nuclear test-ban debate, p. 5

85 Allen, ‘Minutes of the 87th council meeting’, p. 3, RTBT, K. 124; Egan, Barry Commoner, p. 65.

86 Thomson to Allen, 15 Feb. 1957, RTBT, K. 124.

87 Cockcroft to Allan, 11 Mar. 1957, TNA, AB 27/6.

88 Allan to vice-presidents and members of the council, 1 Apr. 1957, TNA, AB 27/6.

89 Alexander Haddow, ‘The problem before mankind’, in Gilbert McAllister, ed., The bomb: challenge and answer (London, 1955), pp. 15–45, at pp. 31–2. For a comparative analysis of the work of the MRC and the National Academy of Sciences in the United States, see Higuchi, ‘Radioactive fallout’, pp. 137–66.

90 Allan to vice-presidents and members of the council, 1 Apr. 1957, TNA, AB 27/6.

91 Fishenden to Schonland, 4 Apr. 1957, TNA, AB 27/6.

92 Matterson to Schonland, 16 Apr. 1957, TNA, AB 27/6; Allan to Press Office, Foreign Office, 15 Apr. 1957, TNA, FO 371/129239; Allen to Press Office, Ministry of Health, 15 Apr. 1957; Allen to private secretary to the prime minister, 15 Apr. 1957, all in RTBT, K. 117.

93 Massey and Allen, ‘H-bomb tests’, pp. 39–40; Cmd 9780, MRC, The hazards to man of nuclear and allied radiations, pp. 57–8; Salisbury, ‘Cabinet: nuclear and allied radiations’, pp. 80–1. See also John Lear, ‘Where is the rest of the strontium-90?’, New Scientist, 29 Nov. 1956, pp. 29–30.

94 Jolly, J. Christopher, ‘Linus Pauling and the scientific debate over fallout hazards’, Endeavour, 26 (2002), pp. 149–53, at p. 151.

95 Cmd 9780, MRC, The hazards to man of nuclear and allied radiations, pp. 58–9. Note that the ‘Statement on strontium hazards’ words this cautiously as ‘to be of the order of 1 per cent.’, Massey and Allen, ‘H-bomb tests’, p. 39.

96 Massey and Allen, ‘H-bomb tests’, pp. 39–40.

97 ‘Strontium risks from bombs’, Times, 17 Apr. 1957, p. 7; ‘Bone and bone cancer’, Manchester Guardian, 18 Apr. 1957, p. 8; ‘“Fall-out”’, ILN, 22 June 1957, pp. 1020–1, at p. 1020.

98 Cockcroft to Allan, 5 Apr. 1957, TNA, 27/6; Peierls to Allan, 8 Apr. 1957, RTBT, K. 124; Skinner to Allan, 10 Apr. 1957, RTBT, K. 124.

99 Cockcroft to Plowden, 16 Apr. 1957, TNA, AB 27/6.

100 Note, 25 Apr. 1957, TNA, AB 26/7.

101 Cockcroft to Massey, 2 May 1957, TNA, AB 27/6; ‘Bone and bone cancer’, p. 8.

102 Massey to Cockcroft, 6 May 1957, TNA, AB 27/6.

103 Rotblat to Lloyd, 1 May 1957; H. Hainworth, note, 7 May 1957, both in TNA, FO 371/129241.

104 Ian Harvey, ‘The H-bomb – B.B.C. broadcasts’, [21 Mar.] 1957, TNA, FO 371/129239.

105 G. Brown, minute, 2 Apr. 1957, TNA, FO 371/129241.

106 G. Brown, ‘Broadcasts on nuclear problems’, 10 Apr. 1957, TNA, FO 371/129241.

107 Laskey to Langridge and Permanent Under-Secretary's Department, 5 May 1957; H. Hainworth, note, 7 May 1957. This even included drafting both a precautionary parliamentary question and answer: J. C. Cloake, note, 9 May 1957; ‘Draft parliamentary question’ and ‘Draft answer’, attached to H. Hainworth, note, 9 May 1957, all in TNA, FO 371/129241.

108 A. E. Davidson, note, 8 May 1957, TNA, FO 371/129241.

109 Lloyd to Rotblat, 13 May 1957, TNA, FO 371/129241.

110 Adamthwaite, Anthony, ‘“Nation shall speak peace unto nation”: the BBC's response to peace and defence issues, 1945–1958’, Contemporary Record, 7 (1993), pp. 557–77, at p. 561.

111 Stefan Collini, Public moralists: political thought and intellectual life in Britain, 1850–1930 (Oxford, 1991). Patrick Blackett published his critique of British nuclear policy, for example, in the form of Military and political consequences of atomic energy (London, 1948). On Russell, see Grattan-Guinness, Ivor, ‘Bertrand Russell (1872–1970): man of dissent’, Notes and Records of the Royal Society, 63 (2009), pp. 365–79.

112 Philip Moon and Rudolf Peierls, ‘Atomic energy: second reading of the bill, two points of criticism’, Times, 8 Oct. 1946, p. 5.

113 The civil service purge’, ASN, 3 (1950), pp. 108–9.

114 ‘Strontium risks from bombs’, 7.

115 See correspondence in RTBT, K. 127.

116 ‘Bone cancer link to H-bomb feared’, New York Times, 17 Apr. 1957, p. 3.

117 Rabinowitch, Eugene, ‘The nuclear weapon test ban’, BAS, 13 (1957), p. 201; ASA, ‘Strontium hazard’, BAS, 13 (1957), pp. 202–3; Schweitzer, Albert, ‘Appeal to end nuclear tests’, BAS, 13 (1957), pp. 204–5; Libby, Willard F., ‘A letter from Dr. Libby’, BAS, 13 (1957), pp. 206–7.

118 Gallup, ed., Gallup international public opinion polls, i, pp. 409, 411, 430, 442, 458, 465–6, 480, 482, 487.

119 See, for example, Kalckar, Herman M., ‘An international milk teeth radiation census’, Nature, 182 (1958), pp. 283–4; Russell, R. Scott, ‘Deposition of strontium-90 and its content in vegetation and in human diet in the United Kingdom’, Nature, 182 (1958), pp. 834–9.

120 Thomas E. Murray, ‘Reliance on H-bomb and its dangers’, Life, 6 May 1957, pp. 181–2, 184, 187–8, 193–4, 197–8, at pp. 188, 193; ‘A searching inquiry into nuclear perils’, Life, 10 June 1957, pp. 24–9, at p. 27.

121 Kulp, J. Laurence, Eckmann, Walter R., and Schulert, Arthur R., ‘Strontium-90 in man’, Science, 125 (1957), p. 224.

122 An appeal by American scientists to the governments and the people of the world’, BAS, 13 (1957), p. 264. See also Walter Selove and Mortimer Elkind, eds., Radiation and man, spec. issue of BAS, 14 (1958).

123 ‘Appeal to the British physicists against hydrogen-bomb testing by the undersigned Japanese physicists’, 28 Feb. 1958, attached to letter, Fujimato to Rotblat, 1 Mar. 1957, RTBT, K. 125; ‘Peace is on…their minds’, Picture Post, 18 Mar. 1957, p. 5; ‘Telegrams’, Picture Post, 27 Apr. 1957, p. 5.

124 Jill Liddington, The road to Greenham Common: feminism and anti-militarism in Britain since 1820 (Syracuse, NY, 1991), pp. 187–8; Taylor, Against the bomb, pp. 5–18, 115, 122.

125 Gallup, ed., Gallup international public opinion polls, i, pp. 363, 411–12, 449–50, 453–4, 476, 479, 483.

126 Parliamentary debates (Commons), vol. 569, 3 May 1957, cols. 598–608.

127 Oliver, Kennedy, Macmillan, and the nuclear test-ban debate, pp. 6–7.

128 Arnold, Britain and the H-bomb, pp. 115–19, 131–50; Walker, British nuclear weapons, pp. 91–107.

129 Parliamentary debates (Commons) vol. 568, 17 Apr. 1957, cols. 1922–3; Parliamentary debates (Commons) vol. 570, 13 May 1957, cols. 31–2.

130 Parliamentary debates (Commons), vol. 568, 17 Apr. 1957, cols. 1907–8, 1920–2.

131 ‘Did H-dust land here?’, Daily Mirror, 9 May 1957, p. 1; ‘Nuclear tests’; Parliamentary debates (Commons) vol. 569, 7 May 1957, cols. 799–803. See also Western Mail, Strontium 90 in Wales: a series of articles reprinted from the Western Mail (Cardiff, [c. 1958]).

132 Richard Taylor, ‘The Labour party and CND: 1957 to 1984’, in Richard Taylor and Nigel Young, eds., Campaigns for peace: British peace movements in the twentieth century (Manchester, 1987), pp. 100–30, at pp. 101–16.

133 Taylor, Against the bomb, pp. 28–9.

134 ‘46 grim lessons of nuclear war’, Times, 27 May 1958, p. 11.

135 The Mayor and Merthyr Trades Council, ‘An appeal to sanity’, n.d. [c. 1958], Richard Burton Archives, Swansea University, Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom, South Wales Coalfield Collection, SC 54.

136 Divine, Blowing on the wind, pp. 200–1; Gallup, ed., Gallup international public opinion polls, i, p. 463.

137 Divine, Blowing on the wind, pp. 200–1.

138 Oliver, Kennedy, Macmillan, and the nuclear test-ban debate, p. 7.

139 ‘“Lone declaration to suspend bomb tests of little value”’, Times, 2 May 1958, p. 5; ‘Premier rejects suspension’, Manchester Guardian, 2 May 1958, p. 1.

140 Arnold, Windscale 1957, pp. xxi, 42–59.

141 Jones, ‘Mushroom-shaped cloud’, p. 19.

142 ‘“Death dust” scare at A-plant’, Daily Mirror, 12 Oct. 1957, p. 1; ‘“A-milk”’, Daily Mirror, 15 Oct. 1957, p. 3; ‘Uneasiness at Calder Hall’, Times, 17 Oct. 1957, p. 2; ‘Fall-out at Windscale’, Economist, 19 Oct. 1957, pp. 1, 239–41; Chamberlain, A. C. and Dunster, H. J., ‘Deposition of radioactivity in north-west England from the accident at Windscale’, Nature, 182 (1958), pp. 629–30; Stewart, N. G. and Crooks, R. N., ‘Long-range travel of the radioactive cloud from the accident at Windscale’, Nature, 182 (1958), pp. 627–8; Maycock, G. and Vennart, J., ‘Iodine-131 in human thyroids following the Windscale reactor accident’, Nature, 183 (1958), p. 1545; ‘After Windscale’, New Scientist, 24 Oct. 1957, p. 7.

143 Ronald Bedford, ‘The atomic cloud over Britain’, Daily Mirror, 11 Mar. 1958, p. 9.

144 Arnold, Windscale 1957, p. xxi.

145 Ibid., pp. 78–9; Brian Cathcart, ‘Penney, William George, Baron Penney (1909–1991)’, ODNB.

146 Cmnd 302, Accident at Windscale no. 1 pile on 10th October, 1957: presented to parliament by the prime minister by command of Her Majesty, November 1957 (London, 1957), p. 20.

147 Harold P. Himsworth, ‘Annex III: Medical Research Council, report by the Committee on the Health and Safety Aspects’, in ibid., p. 18.

148 John Hare, memorandum for prime minister, 12 Sept. 1958; John Hare, memorandum for prime minister, 24 Oct. 1958; John Hare, memorandum for prime minister, 14 Nov. 1958, all in TNA, PREM 11/2540.

149 Maguire, Richard, ‘Scientific dissent amid the United Kingdom government's nuclear weapons programme’, History Workshop Journal, 63 (2007), pp. 113–35.

150 Masco, Joseph, ‘Bad weather: on planetary crisis’, Social Studies of Science, 40 (2010), pp. 740, at p. 9.

151 See, for example, William Greig, ‘Death dust has doubled’, Daily Mirror, 28 Apr. 1959, p. 1; Ronald Bedford, ‘The death rate and atom-dust by a doctor’, Daily Mirror, 23 Oct. 1959, pp. 16–17; ‘More strontium 90 in children’, Times, 22 Mar. 1960, p. 9; Ronald Bedford, ‘More A-dust…fall-out tests on babies’, Daily Mirror, 22 Mar. 1960, p. 3; ‘Strontium 90 in milk increased’, Times, 4 Apr. 1960, p. 3; ‘Radiation review premature’, Times, 19 Oct. 1961, p. 12; ‘Bomb caution by Medical Research Council’, Times, 25 Oct. 1961, p. 6; ‘Milk plan to counteract Soviet bomb fall-out’, Times, 25 Oct. 1961, p. 10; Ronald Bedford, ‘Fall-out’, Daily Mirror, 25 Oct. 1961, p. 8; ‘Lower iodine 131 level in milk’, Times, 9 Nov. 1961, p. 14; ‘Milk safe, even for young’, Times, 24 Nov. 1961, p. 5. On the test see Adamsky, Victor and Smirnov, Yuri, ‘Moscow's biggest bomb: the 50-megaton test of October 1961’, Cold War International History Project Bulletin, 4 (1994), pp. 3, 1921.

152 Marjorie Proops, ‘Marjorie Proops says fall out, girls’, Daily Mirror, 17 Jan. 1962, pp. 10–11, at p. 10.

153 Laucht, Elemental Germans, p. 171; Rabinowitch, Eugene, ‘Pugwash’, BAS, 13 (1957), pp. 243–8, at pp. 243–4.

154 Moore, Nuclear illusion, pp. 36–40, 150–5.

155 UNSCEAR, ‘Report of the UNSCEAR’, pp. 1, 41, 98–123, 228; S. H. Evans, ‘U.N. reports on radiation hazards’, 8 July 1958, TNA, PREM 11/2553; Sandys to De Zulueta, 28 May 1958, TNA, PREM 11/2553; Higuchi, ‘Radioactive fallout’, pp. 282–324.

156 Charles Hill, ‘From the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, lord president of the council’, 11 June 1958; Plowden to Bishop, 18 June 1958; Office of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, ‘Note of a meeting at the Old Treasury on Thursday 24th July to discuss publicity arrangements on publication of the United Nations report on radiation hazards’, 28 July 1958; Quintin McGarel Hogg [Vicount Hailsham], memorandum for prime minister, re: ‘U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation’, 6 Aug. 1958; Office of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, ‘Confidential until 5 p.m. (British summer time) 10th August, 1958: report of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. Note of a press conference at the Board of Trade 4.0 p.m. 6th August’, 7 Aug. 1958, all in TNA, PREM 11/2553.

157 Michaels to Bishop, 8 July 1958, TNA, PREM 11/2553.

158 N. F. C. to Simpson, 4 July 1958, TNA, PREM 11/2553.

159 Edmund Colquhoun Pery to Quintin McGarel Hogg, Aug. 1958, in MRC, Cmnd 508, Statement on the report of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation: presented to parliament by the lord president of the council by command of Her Majesty, August 1958 (London, 1958), p. 3, TNA, PREM 11/2553.

160 Harold P. Himsworth et al., ‘The report of the Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation to the Thirteenth General Assembly of the United Nations: a report to the Medical Research Council by their Committee on the Hazards to Man of Nuclear and Allied Radiations’, in MRC, Cmnd 508, pp. 4, 6, 13.

161 This also found expression in the recognition of new international standards in radiation dose levels and measuring techniques in Cmnd 1225, MRC, The hazards to man of nuclear and allied radiations: a second report to the Medical Research Council, presented to parliament by the lord president of the council and minister for science by command of Her Majesty, December 1960 (London, 1960).

162 Simpson to Shedden, 13 Aug. 1958, TNA, PREM 11/2553.

163 ‘Draft press release on the report of the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation’, n.d., attached to letter, Simpson to Shedden, 5 Aug. 1958, TNA, PREM 11/2553.

164 Oliver, Kennedy, Macmillan, and the nuclear test-ban debate, p. 8.

165 ‘Treaty banning nuclear weapon tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, and under water, August 5, 1963’, repr. in Robert C. Williams and Philip L. Cantelon, eds., The American atom: a documentary history of nuclear policies from the discovery of fission to the present 1939–1984 (Philadelphia, PA, 1984), pp. 202–5, at p. 202.

166 Masco, Joseph, ‘“Survival is your business”: engineering ruins and affect in nuclear America’, Cultural Anthropology, 23 (2008), pp. 361–98, at p. 378.

167 Lawrence S. Wittner, ‘The nuclear threat ignored: how and why the campaign against the bomb disintegrated in the late 1960s’, in Carole Fink, Philipp Gassert, and Detlef Junker, eds., 1968: the world transformed (Cambridge and Washington, DC, 1998), pp. 439–58.

* The author wishes to thank Jan-Henrik Meyer, Astrid Mignon-Kirchhof, and the participants of the Berlin-Brandenburg Colloquium on Environmental History at Humboldt University, Berlin, for their comments on an early version of this paper, as well as Emma Cavell, Martin Johnes, Adam Mosley, and the article's anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier drafts.

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The Historical Journal
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