10,000 Maniacs - "Poison in the Well"
Invisible chemicals. A conspiracy to hide the truth. A report saying it was all harmless fun.
The nuclear radiation leak in Japan has got me thinking about another famous case of poison spreading across an unwitting populace - except that the one I'm thinking about was intentional and initiated by the U.S. government.
And it happened right here in Winnipeg.
As articles in the May 15 to 29, 1997 editions of the Winnipeg Free Press reported:
"Zinc cadmium sulphide was released over Winnipeg between July 9 and Aug. 1, 1953 to initiate germ warfare agents. Winnipeg was one of 32 centres chosen, and only Dallas and Minneapolis were subjected to more tests."Zinc cadmium sulphide is an odorless, colorless, cancer-causing agent, but a report commissioned by the U.S. Congress, paid for by the Pentagon, and chaired by Dr. Rogene Henderson in 1997 finds that - surprise! - the cancer-causing agent was "of such small quantity as to not cause any harm."
"U.S. planes and trucks, and engineers stationed on roofs released six kilograms of the chemical 36 times on residential neighborhoods and fields."
In fact, Winnipeg's city fathers were duped by the Pentagon into believing that the tests were intended only to "discover the behavior of smoke in built up areas" and would "provide valuable data for civil defence purposes."
This was at the height of the Cold War, so it seemed like a fine idea at the time - and like everyone was doing their civic duty by protecting Winnipeg in advance of the Russians launching a nuclear attack.
The City's health committee approved the request on Feb. 2, 1953, and in classic Friendly Manitoba fashion, we welcomed it with open arms.
According to the Free Press, the Henderson Report cites that "Civil defence and city officials and surrounding municipalities were cooperative, and considerable interest was shown by press and public."
Yes, I'm sure those "trace amounts of radiation" spewing out of Japan are nothing more than "a tear in a salty sea."