What is CORE?
CORE, the Consequences of Radiation Exposure Museum and Archives, is a Washington State nonprofit and IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.
CORE is honored to be a member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.
CORE was formed by a group of Hanford downwinders and academics representing a wide range of professional backgrounds, for the common purpose of establishing the first museum in the country to document and honor the suffering of those whose lives and health have been damaged by the nuclear era in our country and around the globe. The CORE Museum and Archives will focus on the life and health experiences of:
– downwinders exposed to radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons production and testing activities;
– uranium miners, millers, and transporters;
– people exposed from use of nuclear weapons and depleted uranium in warfare;
– people exposed from nuclear waste transport or storage;
– people exposed downwind of nuclear reactor accidents and to routine offsite radioactive releases from operating reactors;
– nuclear workers exposed on the job;
– people exposed from nuclear medicine procedures.
Although museums and exhibits dedicated to nuclear weapons production and testing programs do exist, none of them address the health implications of the nuclear era that we will present and examine in this unique museum and archives.
An online search for “downwinder museums” pulls up several document collections within regional libraries. The only museum identified as a “downwinder museum,” is the “National Atomic Testing Museum” in Las Vegas. This museum opened in 2005, in association with the Smithsonian Institute, to “consolidate and preserve atomic testing history and artifacts.”
Nevada test site downwinders “charge that the museum excludes the largest group of participants in the four-decade testing program—the tens of thousands of Americans living downwind who developed cancer and other fallout-related illnesses.”
“Where,” asks downwinder Darlene Phillips of Bountiful, Utah, “are the exhibits to the victims of the Cold War? They once called us a ‘low use segment of the population.’ Apparently, we’re such a low-use segment, we don’t even exist and don’t deserve a place in history. The Cold War was no different from any other war. There are always people killed by friendly fire. Those of us who lived downwind and have buried far too many relatives are examples of the damage friendly fire causes, but we aren’t included in the exhibit.”
These Nevada test site downwinders echo the experience of Hanford’s downwinders. The former CREHST Museum in Richland, near the Hanford reservation, contained no mention of the human toll of Hanford operations.
Those who have suffered the loss of loved ones and who now live with the debilitating health impacts of exposure to radiation have a profound, unmet need for a place of solace, a place in which loss can be discussed openly and honestly. The true health impacts of radiation exposure are often disregarded or even negated in a global culture that favors nuclear power and the use of nuclear weaponry. This museum and memorial will bring together the stories of people around the globe who have truly shouldered the human toll of the nuclear age.
As nuclear reactors continue to age, the probability of further disasters looms, and the number of people exposed will continue to increase. There will be, in the future, an increasing segment of the world attempting to manage nuclear materials, nuclear waste, and the health implications of radiation exposure.
CORE will serve as the means to coalesce radiation exposure health information currently held in disparate, geographically separated communities around the world. Through our collections, we will bring a voice to disenfranchised populations that often find themselves the chosen location of nuclear weapons production and testing sites, and the chosen placement of nuclear reactors. We will put special emphasis on racial and gender issues as they pertain to exposure health outcomes.
What is the MPNHP?
The Manhattan Project National Historical Park (MPNHP) claims to tell the stories of the people, events, science, and engineering that went into the creation of the atomic bomb that was dropped at the end of WWII. The park focuses on three sites: Hanford, Los Alamos, and Oak Ridge.
However, the park does not include the stories of the downwinders. The Directors of CORE feel strongly that the downwinders’ stories should be included in the MPNHP. Without these stories, MPNHP’s history of the atomic bomb is incomplete, and the voices of those directly impacted by the bomb will go unheard.
In response to a call for public comment, the CORE Directors sent a letter to the National Park Service Project Manager of the Park. Read that letter here.