Photo of the Week: The Atomic Age, Part II

Today marks the anniversary of the first atomic weapons test in 1945. This first test took place in New Mexico; extensive atomic testing was also done in Nevada and Washington state, which is the subject of this week's photos by Nevada photographer Peter Goin.


Peter Goin, Site of Above-Ground Tests, Yucca Lake, dye coupler print, 1986, © 1990 Peter Goin

Yucca Lake is a nuclear test site in the Nevada desert -- only 65 miles from Las Vegas -- where a shocking 739 tests were performed between 1951 and 1992. This particular photograph shows the aftermath of above-ground nuclear testing, but apparently underground testing at the site also created craters large enough for the Apollo 14 astronauts to use for training.


Peter Goin, Burial Ground [Hanford Plant], dye coupler print, 1987, © 1990 Peter Goin

Hanford was a huge nuclear reactor in Washington state that produced the plutonium used in the first atomic test in New Mexico, tests at Yucca Lake, and the bomb used at Nagasaki in World War II. The plant stopped producing plutonium in the 1940s, but with 53 million gallons of nuclear waste still at the site, it is considered to be the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States. But why is this photograph called "Burial Ground"? The last reactor at Hanford was shut down in 1987, and since then most of the structures have been "cocooned" and buried here in the desert.

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