The Road to Johnston Island

In 1957 the AEC needed a place to test out an idea they had at Livermore Laboratories. The idea came from a young charismatic Italian physicist, Nicholas Christofilos, who worked for Edward Teller. In those days Livermore Laboratories had punch with the Joint Chiefs, their star was ascendant, and they had gotten many contracts for weapons development that might have gone to Los Alamos National Laboratory. Livermore was still proving themselves, and they were hawkish and hostile to any weapon testing ban.  And some of Teller’s ideas were outlandish. A nuclear-powered spaceship,  Project Ploughshares, which among other things, proposed the use of “clean” bombs to create a harbor at Katalla Alaska, a canal across the Alaska peninsula at Fort Molier, excavating oil from oil shale and creating artificial aquifers. But when these projects were talked about with local politicians in the sixties, there would be an air of nervousness. Would there be any…problems?  Even devout conservatives would get reluctant about using nuclear explosives in our homeland. Even projects that only meant firing nuclear-armed rockets out to sea from Cape Canaveral or Vandenburg AFB would be vetoed by increasingly gun-shy American politicians.


But Nicholas Christofilos’s idea looked, in those scary times, to be a defense against the newfound strength of the Soviet Union.  The Soviets had the Sputnik up there flying overhead, they had big solid fuel boosters that could loft their megaton range warheads to U.S. targets, they were developing new satellites.  Livermore told Eisenhower and General Curtis Le May that they might have a secret weapon that would enable us to knock down Soviet satellites, and intercept and destroy incoming ICBMs.  Our weapon would be the Van Allen Belt, a magnetic band around the earth.


If we could detonate a megaton range bomb (code-named TEAK) inside the Van Allen Belt, it might flood the belt with a lethal flood of X-rays and neutrons that could destroy computer memories, render solar panels useless, and destroy incoming Soviet missiles and their spy satellites orbiting in low orbits.


         A long conference, held at Livermore February 10-21, 1958, and attended, among others, by J.R. Killian, chairman of the President’s Science Advisory Committee, concluded that TEAK would not produce serious effects on military radar and radio systems, but that a properly optimized shot might cause difficulties for several months. Because of the large uncertainties in the calculations, the group recommended that a small shot be fired to establish the facts.  This was to be become Project Argus.”[1]


         In April 1958, the AEC sponsored Project Argus, three top-secret relatively small atomic tests high in space near the South Pole on the edge of the Van Allen belt. A presidential scientific commission headed by James Killian studied the data. It looked as if Christofilos was right. Washington decided to make it a top priority project to test out his ideas on a bigger scale. Detonate a warhead in the megaton range up in near-space and create a weapon that would have a kill range of five miles or so. With a really big bomb, a close miss to an ICBM reentry body would give you a kill.


         This meant adding two more tests to the already crowded HARDTACK 1 series underway in the Pacific: TEAK and ORANGE. Arm two Redstone IRBM missiles with two big 3.8 megaton W-39 warheads, and fire them from a new launcher under construction on Bikini atoll. Detonate them inside the Van Allen belt.


          All the testing they had been doing in the Eniwetok and Bikini had generated an enthusiastic audience in Hawaii. Fireworks year around.  Joint Task Force 7.3 was even sending out press releases to let people know when they doing their shots.  There were front page headlines in the Honolulu papers announcing the big shots.   TEAK and ORANGE were high altitude affairs, very powerful, and would be fired at nighttime, when there was more danger to people’s eyesight.   More than three thousand people were living in the Marshall Islands area. Concerns were being raised that the flash would damage people’s retinas. There was no guarantee that natives would turn their heads away at the right time. Reverberations were continuing to be felt about radiation damage to islanders from early tests. Lewis Strauss, chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, opposed the tests because of fears that the flash from the nighttime detonation might blind islanders who were living on nearby atolls. He finally agreed to approve the high-altitude test on the condition that the launch point be moved to the more remote site at Johnston Island. The Pacific Proving Grounds had run through its stock of political capital. The heydays of atmospheric testing in Eniwetok and Bikini and other atolls in our so-called Trust territories were over. We had bombed the hell out of Bikini and Eniwetok. In 1957 when the enormous Bravo shot at Bikini made the island of Eugelab disappear. Public opinion began to turn against atomic testing. We had taken possession of the so-called “trust territories” from Japan when the war was over, only to turn some of the atolls of the western Pacific into radioactive no-man’s lands. The people of the United States were increasingly concerned about fallout. The enthusiasts for bigger and better inside the AEC were no longer in the ascendant, Lewis Strauss was retiring as head of the AEC, and no one in the administration was listening with awe to Edward Teller any more. President Dwight Eisenhower began to think about his legacy. Did he want to leave his nation in the midst of an arms race, or did he want to try for disarmament? Having James Killian as his science advisor freed him to do some fresh thinking [2]. So it was that in 1958, he stunned the nuclear arms establishment by saying that the U.S. would declare a unilateral halt in atomic testing.  He would make a number of initiatives to try to get serious talks going with Russia on a comprehensive test ban.  The alphabet soup of agencies and groups and corporations building and testing atomic weapons were worried.


Despite determined resistance by military officers at the highest level, what Ogle calls “political factors” triumphed. There would be no more testing in the Trust Territories. TEAK and ORANGE  would be shot on Johnston Island.  Starting in 1958, budgets were slashed for the testing program in the Pacific. Equipment was moved to Albuquerque, and the uncompleted launch site at Bikini was demolished. At the Pacific Proving Grounds they had had a vast area of sea and two large atolls with a diameter of from 18 to 20 miles.  Johnston Island was just one small island you could walk around in 50 minutes.


By October 31, 1958, the U.S. had tested 66 nuclear devices in the Marshall Islands. The U.S. government continued radiological surveys of the Marshalls and mounted cleanup activities to try to make contaminated areas habitable. In the meantime, the Bikini people have been relocated several times. In 1980 the Enewetak people returned to their atoll, but insufficient food caused 100 of them to leave a year later. The Bravo shot that contaminated the atoll of Rongelap caused the Rongelapese to evacuate their home island. The scientists and military men who governed the Pacific Proving Ground had been the lords of these atolls between 1946 and 1957, but their time was coming to a close. 

[1] Ogle page 101

[2] Danger and Survival, Choices about the bomb in the first Fifty Years, McGeorge Bundy, Random House, page 331


The Atomic Age comes to the island

Hardtack 1 set a frenetic pace for Task Force 7.3.  Between April 28 and August 18 of 1958 they conducted 35 tests, or a test about every three days. Everything was on a rush-rush basis, since the Department of Defense had a whole arsenal of new weapons to get tested before the freeze set in.    The Air Force wanted to see what kind of potential the Mark 39 had for killing enemy satellites. They built a launching area for Redstone rockets on the east end of Johnston Island.  It was a congested area. Close to the launcher were barracks and the mess hall for air force personnel, the Military Air Transfer Service (MATS) depot, and the Coast Guard base on Sand Island. Soon there would be three launchers on the island firing nuclear-armed rockets almost straight up over people’s heads. What went up would sometimes come back down. When the testing program came to Johnston Island in 1958 it was an escalation of hazards to the people involved in atomic testing.  General Starbird didn’t want to test there, but he was following the orders he got from Washington.   There was a minimum of stand-off distance from detonation. Weapons were detonated almost directly over an island inhabited by American servicemen and civilian technicians living in tents and quonset huts and an old underground hospital built in World War Two.  Steel girders had to be used to reinforce the ceilings of trailers used for monitoring because each Thor being fired was followed with a volley of Nike Hercules rockets that would fly through its blast field with their electronic whiskers out, and then fall back to earth.


The nuclear age arrived with a big bang at tiny Johnston Island. TEAK was fired on August 1, 1958. 3.6 megatons.  It was supposed to detonate about six miles south of the island, but due to a programming failure it burst directly over the island at the desired elevation making the island the effective ground zero. This brought the explosion 2,000 feet (approximately 2/5ths of a mile) nearer than intended to the launch site control and analysis crews. It was close enough and intense enough to temporarily blind 6 people standing outside the control shelter. Anyone looking directly towards the detonation would have received retinal burns to the eyes at ground zero. The safe distance for watching the Teak fireball without goggles was 725 kilometers.  It was the first of many events that put servicemen stationed on or near Johnston Island in the bull’s-eye, or very close to it.  Ogle considered the Redstone shots as failures because  [1] Neither detonated where they were supposed to, cameras were pointed in the wrong direction, and cloud cover prevented good pictures of the fireball. Starbird petitioned Albuquerque for permission to do them over. Permission denied. Albuquerque and Livermore were happy with the magnitude of TEAK’s impact inside the Van Allen belt.


TEAK burst at 27 miles of altitude, and it blanked out communications in the eastern Pacific region. The communications blackout lasted 9 hours in Australia and at least 2 hours in Hawaii. An air force man watching the horizon from his home in Hawaii thought that maybe Russia had attacked them.


“ I just thought it was Honolulu or Pearl Harbor (going up in smoke) and I was dead.”  


At the Pentagon, hour after hour passed with no word from Johnston Island regarding the test. At their headquarters at the Defense Atomic Support Agency (formerly AFSWP) , Admiral Parker grew concerned for the personnel on Johnston Island as hour after hour passed with no word regarding the test. Finally, some eight hours after TEAK had occurred, the word came that all was well. One of the first radio messages received at Johnston Island once communications were restored was a panicky sounding transmission.   "Are you still there?" [2]


During the evening of August 11, ORANGE, another Redstone carrying a 3.8 megaton warhead was launched. When the Redstone reached 125,000 feet, the fire signal was sent to the missile with no apparent response. Someone had failed to throw a safety switch once the missile had enough altitude to clear the island's safety zone. Technicians discovered and corrected the error.  The Redstone reached 141,000 feet before detonating. Its lower burst altitude meant less trouble with the ionosphere, but they had to fireproof a lot of the structures on the island before the shot and get everyone inside. Many of the thousands of birds that made their home on Sand Island were impacted by the flash.   Herman Hoerlin, a scientist with Las Alamos, made the following observation in his 1987 study of the impact of the high altitude testing[3]


          “In the case of Teak, we expected a maximum dose of 1 cal cm’ on JI and on the adjacent bird refuge on Sand Island. No thermal damage was expected. However, after the event, we observed quite a few birds sitting or hopping on JI docks in a helpless manner. Either they had been blinded or they were unable to dive for fish, their major food supply, because the ethereal oils which protect their feathers from getting water-soaked had been boiled off by the thermal pulse. “

         The test left them a plane full of blind bunnies and a lot of grounded seabirds.



[1] Ogle, page 368

October 1976   U.S. High Altitude Test Experiences, Herman Hoerlin, LASL monograph,

June 1976


Dominic 1


Johnston Island went back to sleep. No one was working in the Marshall Islands, all the equipment had been shipped back to Albuquerque. Task Force 7.3 had been dismantled. The effort that Eisenhower had made to get an enforceable test ban didn’t go anywhere. Part of the U.S. team at Geneva wanted the ban, and part of them did not. The quest for 100% security in detecting rogue blasts made agreement with our own experts and Russia's difficult. Ogle felt that “distinguishing the seismic waves from small underground blasts and earthquakes was not always possible, and thus the issue of policing and inspection would (always) come up, and sink the effort.”


  It was the height of the cold war, when everyone was furious. The wall was going up in Berlin and Kennedy had just launched the ill-fated Bay of Pigs. World War Three never looked closer at hand than when the U.S. spy plane, the U.2 was shot down inside Russia, and the U.S. blockaded Cuba. President Kennedy was trying his best to put off the heavy pressures from the military and the AEC  to resume atmospheric testing. Russia was testing, having done 20 detonations by October.  On October 30, Khrushchev would fire a true monster of a bomb, a 62 megaton bomb over Novaya Zembya. Kennedy lost his temper with him. “I’ve been fucked!” Schlesinger recalls the president exclaiming. On the next day the New York Times featured on page one a diagram of the damage that Khrushchev’s bomb could do to the city.


Fueling the hysteria in America was the Sputnik, orbiting overhead.  Tiny, yet mighty, the end of the age of U.S. technological omnipotence. Russia soon had a bigger Sputnik, they had these big solid fuel boosters, they had a 62 megaton bomb, and they were testing hydrogen weapons at high altitudes.  The 62 megaton Russian bomb prompted the Atomic Energy Commission’s advisory committee to urge the President to start testing immediately. They wrote the President and told him that given a couple weeks or a month we could test a 50 or even a 100 megaton bomb too. "Tit for Tat" was in the air.   Norris Bradbury, head of the lab at Los Alamos, sought to dump a little cold water on this idea, and put a cover note on the AEC memo saying that the committee was overly optimistic about our ability to maneuver and test such a bomb within the time restraints.

         The military establishment considered John F. Kennedy  a fair weather friend.  He went along with planning the Bay of Pigs, but pulled back when it was clear that U.S. forces would have to be called in to save the ill-planned expedition. He hated the idea of testing in the atmosphere, and generating more Strontium 90 in the fallout, but the political pressures on him to keep up with the Russians were intense. He knew he would have to resume testing eventually and had been playing for time with the AEC and the Joint Chiefs ever since he got the letter from Khrushchev that he planned to drop the big one. On September 20, 1961 he gave verbal authority to resume underground testing in Nevada (Operation Nougat). He authorized planning for atmospheric testing. He hoped that his actions would be a clear signal to Russia that he was loosing patience with their behavior. He still hoped that they would come to the conference table.  At last he gave Austin Betts, director of military applications for the AEC, the go-ahead to test in the atmosphere.


“McNamara, after an impressive and dispassionate review of our weapons situation, asked the development  and effects tests in the atmosphere be authorized at the earliest possible moment.  The President enquired about the timing of the projected series and said that if we had to have the tests, they should be run off rapidly; “We want to do as little as possible to prolong the agony.


 The United States  needed a replacement site for the firing ranges in the Trust Territories, since Johnston Atoll was too small for the  volume and intensity of testing that they planned. They decided to do the high altitude testing using the launchers at Johnston Island, and they asked permission from the British to use Christmas Island, an atoll about 1200 miles northwest of Johnston Island. Since the 18th century the small atoll pursued a see-saw existence, first claimed by the United States, then Britain. Like Johnston Island it had been mined for its fertilizer, then used as a seaplane base, then used as an atomic test site.  Unlike Johnston Island, however, it had a native population and today is part of independent kingdom of Kiritimati.   

            The chairman of the AEC, Glenn Seaborg, went to the chair of the British AEC and asked them if we could borrow Christmas Island for a while. Negotiations went on for a month. The American testers wanted complete control of the island, and all the natives out of there permanently. It was a lot to ask.

        Prime Minister Harold MacMillan was not happy about having more atomic testing done on the island, and was quoted to the affect that he did not like spending a good part of his Christmas holidays strategizing how to persuade his ministers to go along with more atomic testing on Christmas Island.  The only way they would okay our use of Christmas Island, was to keep the natives on it and British government in place while the tests went on. The island governor met every flight and stayed in the loop, vetoing the natives being moved off island or their being subjected to events that would disrupt their fishing grounds. .  

             On November 21, 1961, Dominic 1 officially got underway. General Starbird took command of the testing effort by forming Joint Task Force 8.3. William Ogle became his Science Deputy, assuming responsibility for the technical end of things. Starbird was tall and a wizard at logistics. The planning groups were big, and these task forces were formidable affairs, with representation from all the services.  There were admirals and generals, there was a fleet of Navy ships, hundreds of airplanes engaged in monitoring the blasts, a crew of launch technicians from Douglas to prep the Thor rockets, and hundreds of civilian technicians and specialists from E.G & G to monitor fireball growth. A huge complex of antennas would be built to track the Thors.


                                             Dominic Planning begins


On November 30, 1961 Ogle held a high level meeting at Albuquerque laying out what he and Starbird planned. There would be four high altitude shots from Johnson using the Thors. These shots needed at least three instrumented aircraft. Two planes will be close in, looking (up) almost vertically.  The observation points are at ground zero. If the rocket detonated lower than planned, the plane and its crew would be subject to either high radiation or blast effects. The insistence of the weapon laboratories on close-in intensive monitoring meant that everything had to go just right, and nothing went right.   

       During this period, in-fighting within the nuclear establishment for the ear of decision-makers was intense, and there was a flurry of activity to influence the big group of new decision-makers coming on board when Dwight Eisenhower left, and John F. Kennedy came on board.  In March of 1961, a classified Rand Corporation report somehow got out and rattled Washington.  It was a last ditch attack on the movement toward a test ban treaty, arguing that the Soviets would take advantage of a test ban by improving their ability to  kill  incoming U.S. ICBMs  by detonating high potency H-weapons in space, and using their intense X-ray radiation to destroy the ablative materials that protected our warheads, many of whom were relatively small devices.  The Rand Report “had the evident endorsement of Edward Teller and the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board” [2] There was some feeling, according to Ogle, that the Rand Report was overstating the U.S. vulnerability and exaggerating the Russian ability to launch a fleet of defensive weaponry.  It was part of the potent lobbying effort for continued nuclear testing. Then the General Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission advised Glenn Seaborg, the new head of the AEC, that “in our opinion the currently planned U.S. family of ICBMs is altogether “too vulnerable to crude anti-ICBMs.”  The report argued for the creation of a new advisory group of ‘first-rate scientists with an intense and abiding interest is weapon research.”  It laid the groundwork for appointing the so-called McMillan committee.  The “pods” or mock re-entry vehicle devices were added to the rockets at the their request. and  the  troubles with the Thors may have been due to these pods, which changed the aerodynamics of the rocket and were designed to be independently aimed before being jettisoned. They ejected near the top of the re-entry arc. They were supposed to simulate  incoming U.S. ICBM warheads that would run into the blast and X-rays of the Thor warhead when it eventually exploded.   The objective, it seems, was to propel the mock-RVs so they would be fairly close to the detonation point.  After they were pulled out of the ocean, their condition would indicate how much damage would have been done to them if they were attacked by an anti-missile missilc fired by ground-based batteries of defenders.  

             These experimental devices were left off of the Thors used in Project 437, ( see chapter Five)  and their performance improved.  There is this puzzling note that Ogle makes about the mock-RVs and their evolution in January of 1962.


"One of the persistent troubles started about this time. The McMillan Committee was not pleased with the pods that had been suggested by AFSWC (Air Force Special Weapons Center) and DASA (Defense Atomic Support Agency) to obtain ablation data ,etc, but wanted to test a genuine reentry vehicle. They thus proposed that an R & D  version of the Minuteman Mark 5 reentry vehicle be used  instead of the pods and asked for an investigation of this concept in mid-January.  This uncertainty persisted throughout the entire planning period.  By the time it came to a head, Douglas  had run wind tunnel tests, etc, to convince themselves  that the pods would not do anything disastrous to the aerodynamics of the Thor, but there was no way to achieve the same satisfaction for the mock-RVs."    (reference) 


The island was crowded and smelly, (why?)and the timetables were brutal.[1]   Washington and Los Alamos kept urging that more tests  be added to the schedule. Towards the end of Dominic, there was an intense push for URACCA, a very high altitude test that would take the THOR to almost the end of its reach, a test that would be at an altitude of 1500 kilometers or higher. (ibid Ogle, page 318).  

       URACCA was really a feasibility study for testing in outer space, a persistent dream of Livermore Labs, who saw outer space as a place where weapons could be detonated without worries about fallout and political backlash.  By the time the push for URRACA was underway, however, the government's piggy bank was empty, and they were running out of Thors. The test would hang fire for a long time before eventually being cancelled by President Kennedy. (Ogle page 428)There were also tensions between the scientists and the military who never heritage of quarreling from the days that General Groves ran the Manhattan Project. With the Johnston shots, they weren't doing challenging weapon development work. The warheads they had on the Thors were a well-tested version of the Mark 28 warhead. They would go off; they were safe. The newly installed radars and guidance equipment, however, were plagued with troubles and the Thors with their newly designed pods would become tempermental. The military commanders couldn’t stand all the weather-related and equipment-related delays that kept their soldiers, sailors and airmen sitting around twiddling their thumbs.  There were forty Navy ships and 100 aircraft in this exercise[1]. There were tensions between the Navy Deputy in the project, Admiral Lloyd Mustin, and Bill Ogle. There is a story that at one point Ogle told Mustin that okay, they could go ahead with this one test, but that he would take his whole Los Alamos crew to Hawaii and come back when it was all over to see if anyone in the test area was still alive.[1] And no one really knew what the hidden costs would be when they flipped the self-destruct switch when a rocket would explode over the island. It exchanged a clean detonation far away for a dirty bomb blowing up in their lap.[1]



I've often said that I never met a fission bomb I didn't like, but the thermonuclear explosions were another story.  No one who has ever witnessed an atmospheric test of a hydrogen bomb, would ever want to see one used, it's that powerful of an experience. I remember  watching hydrogen bomb tests where I suddenly thought to myself, ‘We're standing way too close to the blast,’even though the island we were standing on was more than 20 miles from the point of detonation.”

                                                                           Nuclear weapons scientist                                                                                                      Bob Brownlee[4]



Johnston Island operated in bursts. Quiet and empty for years, then awash in furious bursts of activity.  In January of 1962, Holmes and Narver, a construction outfit based in Honolulu, arrived to begin working on the new buildings and equipment for the high altitude testing in the Van Allen belts.  A LOX (Liquid Oxygen) plant was built to provide rocket fuel, and soon the entire island was inundated with personnel from the Army, Navy and Marine Corps to augment the USAF and USCG personnel. During the period January to October 1962 the peacetime population of both islands swelled from a skeleton crew of 90 Air Force personnel, to about 1,000 civilian and military. Many of the problems with Dominic 1 could have been related to its hastily built infrastructure. 

                                                                  Closeup of two pods

Things did not go well with the pods. There would be two Dominic test series. One would go off almost without a hitch.  The air-drop tests based on Christmas Island went off first, were based on well-refined technology, using a few B-52s with experienced crews flying out of Hawaii’s Hickam AFB airdropping weapon cases containing test versions of warheads.  The other Dominic, based in Johnston Island and using the newly modified Thors did not go well. When it was all over, the island was radioactive and there was a good deal of quiet finger-pointing. Douglas people were very defensive. 

       Starbuck had laid out the problems with using Johnston Island before he was overruled.  He felt the island was too small and cramped, and it was adjacent to airlines and shipping routes. Test shots would have to be fired off in close proximity to the fleet of observing ships. There was not enough latrines, a very crowded mess hall, and too many high-ranking cooks in the kitchen.


"By March 26 1962 there were 1,000 people on Johnston Island.  The users had occupied the launch facilities, arrangements had been made to tie the Range Tracker (a ship) to the dock, and plans were being made for helicopter evacuation of personnel to the aircraft carrier before shot time.  On the negative side the sewage system was overloaded and serious problems existed with the sanitation facilities, the distillation plant was having troubles providing enough water, and the Island was crowded.  Starbird requested that no more projects be added."

Ogle, page 58


Although the schedule was crowded already, Washington and Los Alamos kept pushing for more tests. There was an intense push for another very high altitude test.  URACCA would take the Thor almost as far up as it could go. It was a feasibility study for testing in outer space, a persistent dream of  Livermore Labs, who saw outer space as the last frontier where there would be no political backlash from the British Labor government and American liberals. By the time the push for URRACA  was underway, however, the piggy bank was empty, and by then they had had to destroy so many Thors, there was an availability problem. The test would hang fire for a long time before eventually being cancelled by the President.  “President Kennedy, upset at the series of failures, asked the Defense Department why the Thor had been chosen rather than some other missile such as  (the) Redstone.”[3]  There were also tensions between the scientists and the military who had a  heritage of quarreling from the days that General Groves ran the Manhattan Project. The scientists weren't happy because with the Johnston shots, they weren't doing challenging weapon development work. The warheads they had on the Thors were a well-tested version of the Mark 28 warhead.

            The newly installed radars and guidance equipment, however, were plagued with troubles and the Thors with their newly designed pods were tempermental. The military commanders couldn’t stand all the weather-related and equipment-related delays that kept their soldiers, sailors and airmen sitting around twiddling their thumbs.  There were forty Navy ships and 100 aircraft in this exercise. There were tensions between the Navy Deputy in the project, Admiral Lloyd Mustin, and Bill Ogle. There is a story that at one point Ogle told Mustin that okay, they could go ahead with this one test, but that he would take his whole Los Alamos crew to Hawaii and come back when it was all over to see if anyone in the test area was still alive.[1] There was nothing in Ogle's book that indicated that the  managers of the program knew or cared enough to find out what would happen when they  flipped the self-destruct switch with the rockets overhead. There would be these invisible snowstorms falling on the island, deadlier storms than the ash that fell on the fishing boat "Lucky Dragon" because they were invisible. 







[1] Ibid,Ogle page 341

[2] Ibid Ogle, page 214

[3] ibid, Ogle  page 422

[4] The Atomic Bomb and American Society, Editors: 2009 Mariner and Piehler, Page 277, “Cold War Nuclear Weapons Work and William Ogle”

[5] A particle recovered from Johnston Island was an amalgam of steel, uranium and plutonium and demonstrated to testers that:”The Pu and U were presumably dispersed by explosive high temperature and pressure and was sprayed onto a stainless steel fragment of the bomb or rocket assembly. Plutonium oxidizes readily and probably underwent this chemical transformational the moment of explosion.”  Also see: Physical and Chemical Characterization of Actinides in Soil from Johnston Atoll, Wolf, Bates,Buck, Dietz Fornter and Brown. Argonne National Laboratory.

[6] Maralinga Report:


[7] Physical and Chemical Characterization of Actinides in Soil from Johnston Atoll, Stephen Wolf, John K. Bates, Edgar C. Buck, Nancy L. Dietz, Jeffrey A. Fortner, and Neil R. Brown, Argonne National Laboratory, 1997