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Incident at Galisteo: The 1955 Teapot Series and the Mental Landscape of Contamination

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Abstract:

In 1955, a decade after the first atomic test in New Mexico, the Atomic Energy Commission launched its third continental nuclear testing series, code named Operation Teapot. Radioactive fallout from these tests affected several parts of the country, but nowhere did it have more impact than in the Galisteo Basin, just sixty miles southeast of Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. In the weeks after the series ended, Los Alamos and the AEC received reports of radioactive fallout effects ranging from blue snow to beta burns, though none were more powerful than that of Robert E. McKee. As the contractor who built and maintained the lab’s facilities, McKee was plugged into the testing complex. But, as the owner of a ranch, which he purchased for one of his sons in the same geographic region as the lab, McKee suffered the effects of radioactive fallout generated by that same complex.

Robert E. McKee’s very public position on the Pajarito Plateau made his attitude toward atomic testing critical for the lab and the commission. Depending upon where McKee situated atomic testing in his mental map—near or far from the ranch where he relaxed and his son earned a living—Los Alamos and the AEC stood either to benefit from his confidence or suffer from his condemnation. How McKee navigated the mental landscape of contamination had very little to do with the actual proximity of his ranch to Los Alamos or the Nevada Proving Ground. Rather, McKee’s response to the cattle deaths on his ranch demonstrates the efforts, though often contradictory, atomic testing officials took to distance testing from Americans’ daily routines and the resultant capacity Americans developed to tolerate continental atomic testing and the greater military industrial complex.
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Name: ASEH Annual Conference
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http://aseh.net


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1169773_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Carr Childers, Leisl. "Incident at Galisteo: The 1955 Teapot Series and the Mental Landscape of Contamination" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL, <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1169773_index.html>

APA Citation:

Carr Childers, L. "Incident at Galisteo: The 1955 Teapot Series and the Mental Landscape of Contamination" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1169773_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: In 1955, a decade after the first atomic test in New Mexico, the Atomic Energy Commission launched its third continental nuclear testing series, code named Operation Teapot. Radioactive fallout from these tests affected several parts of the country, but nowhere did it have more impact than in the Galisteo Basin, just sixty miles southeast of Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. In the weeks after the series ended, Los Alamos and the AEC received reports of radioactive fallout effects ranging from blue snow to beta burns, though none were more powerful than that of Robert E. McKee. As the contractor who built and maintained the lab’s facilities, McKee was plugged into the testing complex. But, as the owner of a ranch, which he purchased for one of his sons in the same geographic region as the lab, McKee suffered the effects of radioactive fallout generated by that same complex.

Robert E. McKee’s very public position on the Pajarito Plateau made his attitude toward atomic testing critical for the lab and the commission. Depending upon where McKee situated atomic testing in his mental map—near or far from the ranch where he relaxed and his son earned a living—Los Alamos and the AEC stood either to benefit from his confidence or suffer from his condemnation. How McKee navigated the mental landscape of contamination had very little to do with the actual proximity of his ranch to Los Alamos or the Nevada Proving Ground. Rather, McKee’s response to the cattle deaths on his ranch demonstrates the efforts, though often contradictory, atomic testing officials took to distance testing from Americans’ daily routines and the resultant capacity Americans developed to tolerate continental atomic testing and the greater military industrial complex.


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