Red Headed Stepchild
(The Barrett family memoir of Navy Life)
by Sophie Ruth Meranski with photos

 

Tinkertoys at 9615 Shore Road, Brooklyn p.46-1005
Rug came from Nicholson Rug factory in Russian section of Tientsin China l931. Card table was used by Jack Barrett for study while at Boston College Law School l941-l951 when living at 52 Emmonsdale Road, West Roxbury #368 ---1983 TEXT A PROPOSAL FOR NUCLEAR - WEAPON - FREE CITIES John B. Barrett, jr. Congress should prohibit deployment, storage, transportation, or manufacture of nuclear weapons within forty or fifty miles of urban populations. The United States & Soviet Union on a bilateral basis should agree to create and de-target nuclear-weapon-free zones around all cities. A citizen should have a legal, constititutional right not to have nuclear weapons placed in his back yard in an urban area, both on safety grounds and from doctrines relating to the law of war. Under the law of war it is probably a crime to bomb an unarmed civilian population. But a warship with nuclear weapons is probably a legal target. Why make San Francisco, Honolulu, New York, Boston, or any city a legal target under the laws of war? The Soviets has assured the Scandinavains they will respect NUCLEAR - WEAPON -FREE ZONES. The century - old Hague Convention, the Nuremberg war crimes trials, the United Nations charter, and the American Catholic Bishops 1983 declaration on nuclear weapons all prohibit the deliberate killing of innocent civilians, unless they are near legitimate military targets. The Air Force has placed most of its missles in thinly populated regions like North Dakota. The Navy, however, has placed ships and nuclear weapons storage sites in areas like San Francisco and Pearl Harbor and plans to deploy hundreds of nuclear cruise missles at Staten Island, New York. Nicholas Yost of the Center for Law in the Public interest in Washington DC has a suit pending in the DC Court of Appeals on the failure of Caspar Weinberger to file Environmental Impact Statements on the MX under the National Environmental Policy Act. In July Mr. Yost also agreed to handle the environmental legal challenge to the Battleship IOWA Task Force. Environmetal Impact Statements should include Worst Case Scenarios -a nuclear accident or a war that could kill one billion people, Mr. Yost argues in his MX brief. Dr. Carl Johnson, a public health official in Jefferson county, Colorado, who investigated the medical consequences of a nuclear acident at Rocky Flats. recommends that "from a public health viewpoint nuclear weapons facilities should be located at least forty miles from population centers, in isolated parts of the country." Following a 1957 fire at a nuclear weapons plant,Dr. Johnson says he knows of at least 241 people who have chromosome damage from plutonium body burdens. In a population ner the plant Johnson found an excess of 24 per cent of all cancers in males and ten per cent in females. Constitutional amendments may be desirable to restore local control to states and cities over nuclear weapons hazards. There is a substantial popular movement to create nuclear-free zones, but the constitutionality of state and local laws is doubtful. Congress needs to take action, perhaps by constitutional amendment. Speaking in Boston June 25, 1983 the noted British historian and anti-nuclear activist Edward P. Thompson stated that a major nuclear weapons accident is almost inevitable in the next ten years. Commnenting on plans to station nuclear cruise missles in Boston, New York, or Newport, he remarked, "It is absolutely criminal to base these missles in a heavily populated center." He called for international solidarity in the peace movements of American & Europe & east & west. Stephen Talbot of public television station KQED made an important study of nuclear weapons facilites around San Francisco in 1980, particularly at Concord Naval Weapons Station. "An active earthquake fault runs less than two miles west of the weapons depot; aqueducts delivering drinking water to more than one million people flow through the base and would be subject to radioactive contamination, -...and there is no evacuation plan for the more than 200,000 residents of ... neighboring suburban communities:" NATION Jan. 7, 1981. Military authorities are very secretive about nuclear weapons sites & have done little to work out emergency procedures with the Federal Emergency Management Agency or state & local officials. Talbot quotes Bill Arkin of the Center for Defense Information, who estimates that there are more than one thousand nuclear weapons in California, with over half in the San Francisco Bay area. The National Association for Research on the Military-Industrial Complex, a project of the American Friends Service Committee in 1980 compiled a list of 121 nuclear storage sites in the US. Nuclear weapons are located in at least forty states. In Hawaii lawsuits have been filed to get the Navy to disclose possible hazards of nuclear weapons storage at West Loch Naval Magazine at Pearl Harbor, just two miles from Honolulu International Airport. Talbot says weapons are transported over heavily populated areas in helicopter. Columnist Jack Anderson says, "The tight-lipped people at the Pentagon admit to 32 nuclear mishaps between 1950 and 1980. My sources say the true figure is closer to four times that number.... Federal and state officials are barely beginning to prepare for the dreadful possibility of a nuclear disaster in your back yard... Allaying the public's fear more than protecting its safety seems to be the main emphasis of the Defense Department's emergency program to handle nuclear weapons accidents... in urban areas ... the havoc could be unmanageable, if not beyond comprehension." Anderson quotes a 1979 General Accounting Office report to Congress, "An accident could occur while a weapon was being moved from one location to another.... It would create a radiological cigar-shaped cloud extending ... for about 28 miles, with a bwidth of 2.5 miles." A dangerous accident took place at Holy Loch, Scotland in November, 1981, when a nuclear missle was being transferred between a submarine and another US Navy ship by "winching". The unstable chemical LX-09 in the detonator exploded. This chemical is intended to be replaced eventually for safety reasons, but is widely used on Navy nuclear missles. An Air Force officer was killed, and a thousand people were evacuated when an explosion occured in a nuclear misle silo near Damascus, Arkansas Sept. 19, 1980. Only conventional explosives in the detonator went off, but the missle traveled 600 feet. Eight fuel leakage accidents occured at Arkansas missle sites in 1979 and 1980. "BROKEN ARROW" is the Pentagon code name for nuclear weapons accidents. B-52s used to stay in the air on alert with nuclear weapons, until serious crashes occurred at Palomares, Spain in 1966 - and Thule Greenland in 1968, with H-bombs scattered and release of plutonium. Tons of contaminated soil, snow, water & ice had to be moved to storage sites in the US. The US has more than 30,000 nuclear weapon warheads. About 120,000 people have access to nuclear weapons and materials. Boston psychiatist Dr. Lester Grinspoon is one of many authorities who have studied alcohol, drug & personality problems among servicemen at nuclear installations. Lloyd J. Dumas, writing in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists November 1980 on "Human Fallibility and Weapons" cites several Department of Defense studies on abuse of marijuana, psychedelics, stimulants, depressants, and narcotics. Stress, monotony, boredom, & isolation also affect many servicemen at nuclear installations. About 5000 military personnel annually have to be transferred away from the nuclear weapons program because of personality problems. Dumas reports that "there is a serious problem of transmission of valid information to the upper echelons, especially where such information points out errors made either by subordinates or by top-level decision-makers.... Former missleman Ted Wye (reports) that in a silo - based strategic nuclear missle force, 'Crew members dare not tell higher command that the regulations are flouted. Non-communication with higher command is endemic in the missle field with the result a gap between regulations and what is really done in the capsule.'" Admiral Gene LaRocque says, "Everybody ought to know where the military weapons are. The reason the military does not tell people whether or not there are weapons on a ship or stored in a certain place is they are afraid people would be unhappy about it & want those weapons moved. But that does not make those people who live in the vicinity any safer.." Among the advantages of a freeze and reduction of nuclear warheads will be the reduced risk of serious nuclear weapons accidents. Admiral LaRocque says a major accident is inevitable unless there is a sharp reduction in the number of nuclear weapons in the US arsenal, & drastic improvement in safety & handling procedures, & greater public awareness. Mayors & municipal officials should join in calling on Congress to prohibit nuclear weapons with 40 or 50 miles of cities and provide constitutional guarantees of the rights of citizens to be safe in their homes and workplaces. An urban Bill of Rights on nuclear safety is urgent. De-targeting of cities should be an important ingredient of a verifiable bilateral freeze. SOURCES: Stephen Talbot "Nuclear Weapons Accidents: The H-Bombs Next Door" THE NATION Jan. 7,1981 -2. Boston Sunday Globe Dec. 13, 1981 p. 12 World Press by Alan Berger "A Missle Mishap - N-Weapon Hit U.S. Ship but Didn't Explode" -3. John Lindsay "How Many Mistakes Have You Made Today? Nuclear Weapons Accidents and U.S. Responsibility" (Mobilization for Survival Flyer) -4. Jack Anderson "Are we Safe from Our Own Nuclear Weapons?" Parade, Oct. 18, 1881 pp 12-14 - 5. Lloyd J. Dumas "Human Fallibility and Weapons". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Nov. 1980 pp 15-20. - 6. PEACEWORK July-August 1983 p. 1 - "E.P.Thompson calls for Internationalization of Anti - Nuke Forces at Boston Harbor Teach-In."
Subject: Tinkertoys in Brooklyn {N}
Year: 1940