Atomic Bombs Dropped in North Carolina in 1961
On January 24, 1961, at about 12:30 AM, a B-52 plane exploded in the skies over Goldsboro and Faro, NC. It was carrying two Mark 39 thermonuclear bombs which disengaged when the jet disintegrated. Apparently the right wing of the B-52 began to leak fuel causing the explosion. Three crewmen were killed and five survived.
Each of the disengaged bombs had a yield of 2 to 4 megatons. That's 250 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. The parachute on one bomb opened and it landed relatively gently and was recovered quickly. The parachute on the other bomb never opened and it crashed into a marshy area on a local farm. It was difficult to retrieve and only part of the bomb was recovered. The component that contains the nuclear material is still in the ground to this day possibly as deep as a 150 feet.
No one knows for sure how close the good people of Wayne County, North Carolina came to being part of a historic nuclear catastrophe. Government officials claim safety devices in place assured the worst would never happen. But just the thought that these jets (and how many others?) are flying our friendly skies above our heads with active bombs is unnerving.
The environmental consequences of that incident are still ongoing. The federal government purchased the swatch of land where the one bomb was not entirely recovered in an effort to prevent people from digging in the area more than five feet. The state of North Carolina tests radiation levels of the water in that area yearly. So far tests have shown radiation levels as normal.
I believe atomic bombs are monsters we created that we can't control. There's too much at stake. There's too much that could go wrong.
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