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Radio Bikini: the Atomic Bomb Testing -- film screening, discussion, screening

Ten and a half months after the second atomic bomb was detonated over Japan with the target for that drop being Nagasaki, the United States Government conducted testing of nuclear devices to investigate the effect of nuclear weapons on warships. The area chosen for the pair of nuclear weapon tests was Bikini Atoll which included Bikini, Eneu, Nam, and Enidrik islands plus the Lagoon which the islands and Reef almost entirely surrounded.

An Academy Award nominated documentary was made of this venture, termed "the world's first nuclear disaster" by chemist Glenn T. Seaborg, the longest-serving chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. A screening of this film "Radio Bikini" is scheduled for Monday,   Nov. 13 at 6:30 p.m. in Orange Hall Gallery, SUNY Orange. Rare and archival footage combines ‘live’ radio broadcasts from Bikini Island in 1946 with footage of the entire operation. "Radio Bikini" won first place awards at the San Francisco Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival.

Gene Weinstein, known in this area for his teaching biology at Monticello High School for 40 years and being a 22-year volunteer bald eagle monitor of the NYS Bald Eagle Restoration Project, was a radioman second class in the US Navy in the Pacific during this time. He will give annotative commentary in addition to the film. Following the screening, he will discuss the circumstances through Q & A. This event, "Radio Bikini: the Atomic Bomb Testing"  is free and open to the public.

Operation Crossroads, as it was code-named, took place in two bomb drops on June 30 and July 24, 1946. The native population of Bikini Island, numbering 167, who were evacuated because of the heavy radiation that would occur from the bombing, was never able to return. That changed these indigenous people’s way of living and some of them died. Test animals that were deliberately confined and penned on decks of the ships in Operation Crossroads died of radiation exposure within two days.

Ninety-five ships of various types were placed in the lagoon as targets. No decontamination procedures had been tested in advance, and in the absence of a protocol, the ships were cleaned using traditional deck-scrubbing methods: hoses, mops, and brushes, with water, soap, and lye. Secondary contamination occurred in a major degree when the clean-up of the area and the ships by unprotected sailors stirred up radioactive material which contaminated their skin, clothing, and, presumably, their lungs, and additionally upon returning to their support ship living quarters, they thereby further contaminated the shower stalls, laundry facilities, and everything they touched.

Questions may be directed to Cultural Affairs at (845) 341-4891 and Also, visit the Cultural Affairs website at

In addition to the film, attendees will be able to view the November exhibit, War in the Arts: Redeeming Spirits, drawings, paintings, assemblages, collages, frescoes, photographs, fabric art, ceramics, sculptures, animation, and the written word: poetry.

Event date, time and location.

Dorothy Szefc
Cultural Affairs