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Why won’t Owens acknowledge the danger of nuclear weapons testing?

September 15, 2020

Alyson Heyrend
Communications Director
Ben McAdams for Congress
[email protected]

Why won’t Burgess Owens acknowledge the danger to Utahns of explosive nuclear weapons testing?

Salt Lake City, Utah—Utah Congressman and 4th Congressional District candidate Ben McAdams said today that Burgess Owens’ insistence that a return to explosive nuclear weapons testing would pose no danger to Utahns’ health and safety makes clear Owens doesn’t understand the issue, or Utahns’ tragic history. McAdams has led efforts in the House of Representatives to block test site preparations or weapons testing at the Nevada Test Site to protect Utahns from ever again being in the path of radioactive fallout.

“Underground testing, which was conducted along with atmospheric testing beginning in 1951, continued until 1992—long past the 1963 Partial Test Ban adoption. An independent analysis of the Department of Energy’s data showed that 54 percent of all underground explosive tests in Nevada did leak – some catastrophically. For Owens to insist that all is well because there’s no more open-air testing is dangerously uninformed,” said McAdams.

A recent news report of a roundtable discussion that included a nuclear weapons expert and Utah downwinders underlines concerns about the Senate’s decision to reserve $10 million to conduct testing proposed by the Trump administration.

McAdams said the Department of Energy’s own data shows that 15 percent of underground tests leaked radiation outside the limits of the Nevada Test Site. As recently as 1986, a test called “Mighty Oak” left dangerous levels of radiation in an underground tunnel that DOE tried to obscure by releasing radioactive gasses into the atmosphere at the same time of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident.

“As a seventh-generation Utahn, I know the harm inflicted on Utahns due to the federal government’s deceit about safety of nuclear weapons testing. That’s why, when I learned about discussions in the Trump administration to restart explosive testing, I successfully pushed a ban on funding in a defense bill for test site preparations or testing. However, the Senate version of the defense bill sets aside funding to conduct just such a test, which is why the threat is urgent and real,” said McAdams.

Burgess Owens’ news releases and social media posts show his lack of understanding of the issue, which McAdams says is dangerous to the health and safety of Utahns Owens seeks to represent. Just today, Owens challenged Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, on the issue.

Posted on September 15, 2020 in Press Releases.

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