PSA to air ahead of ‘Oppenheimer’ screenings in New Mexico

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The story of the first atomic bomb is heading to the big screen and New Mexico is playing a big role.

Military leaders chose our state to develop and test the bomb because it was remote back in the 1940s – but it wasn’t empty.

“There’s a legacy of atomic weapons production that goes beyond just the national labs, that’s human,” said Dylan Spaulding, senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “You know, there are people that have been affected.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists produced a 15-second ad to air before “Oppenheimer” screenings across New Mexico, to make sure moviegoers don’t forget the serious issues the atomic bomb brought to the state.

“New Mexico suffered a toll as a result of being the home to atomic development, and that ranged from people that mined uranium to people who were downwind of the Trinity test,” Spaulding said. “It includes contamination, as well from the labs.”

It’s a toll that Tina Cordova knows all too well.

“I’m the fourth generation in my family to have cancer since 1945,” Cordova said, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium. “Downwinders always say, we don’t ask if we’re going to get cancer, we asked when it’s going to be our turn, because everybody around us has been sick.”

Cordova advocates for the New Mexicans who are still suffering from the fallout of the first atomic bomb test at the Trinity Site.

“Trinity was actually a very dirty bomb,” Cordova said. “It produced massive fallout. They never tested a bomb on a platform 100 feet off the ground again, because it produced so much fallout.”

A newly-released study from Princeton University found the trinity explosion spread radioactive particles to 46 states, Canada and Mexico in the days following.

“When we’ve had nuclear disasters in the past, at places like Chernobyl, and Fukushima, they declared dead zones, and they moved everybody out,” Cordova said. “In New Mexico, they never did that thing. They simply never came back to assess the damage.”

Downwinders have been protesting the U.S. government for years to include New Mexicans in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. It’s an ongoing battle Cordova says moviegoers won’t see in “Oppenheimer.”

“When they came here to film the ‘Oppenheimer’ movie, it was the same, similar invasion of our lands in our lives,” Cordova said. “They took advantage of our tax incentives, they developed this blockbuster Hollywood movie that’s going to make hundreds of millions of dollars, and they walked away. They are telling an incomplete history, and we’re the inconvenient truth that they’re avoiding.”