By Joshua Palmer
Residents questioned the divinity of the Divine Strake Experiment Wednesday, (Jan. 24, 2007) at a public meeting organized by Gov. John Huntsman Jr.
In 2002, the federal government approved funding for the detonation of a 700-ton (bunker buster) ammonium nitrate and fuel bomb in the same area, the Nevada Test Site, where more than 930 nuclear devices were tested from the 1950s to the 1990s.
Many southern Utah residents were exposed to high levels of radiation from the nuclear detonations.
“My strong submission is that we do not test Divine Strake,” Huntsman said.
The proposed testing has festered the wounds of residents who lived downwind of where the previous tests took place.
Residents complained that there was insufficient testing of the soil before Divine Strake was approved, and that the massive explosion could send harmful elements, from atomic testing, that may remain in the soil into the air, where it would spread to their communities.
Citizens at the meeting told stories of spouses, grandparents, children and friends who suffered from disease and died as a result of the testing.
Randall Edwards, an attorney representing several Native American tribes, said he used to visit relatives while testing was taking place and saw many of those relatives die as a result.
“They were ticking time bombs,” Edwards said. “Now I wonder if I am a ticking time bomb because of the exposure I had to the radiation.”
Other elected officials also spoke at the meeting including Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson.
“We will not allow another public health catastrophe caused by the federal government to devastate the lives of our good, hardworking citizens,” Anderson said.
Only two people at the meeting defended the Divine Strake Experiment.
Joel Allred, a Price resident, submitted a written statement that stressed the importance of military and nuclear testing to national security.
“I unapologetically thank God for nuclear weapons,” Allred said. “They have kept me, my wonderful family, this great country and our democratic values safe for more than 60 years.”
Allred reprimanded Huntsman, saying Huntsman opposed the national interest and was weak on defense because of his position on Divine Strake.