Film badges were issued to everyone who was stationed on Christmas and
Johnston islands and all Navy ships directly involved with the tests. Persons
on remote islands monitoring for radiation or conducting experiments were not
badged. Of the over 28,000 participants in DOMINIC, over 25,000 were badged.
Badges were issued for extended periods to ensure that all possible exposure
Because all but one of the shots were airbursts, there was little or no
fallout problem and no residual radiation area around the surface zero. Although
SWORDFISH, the underwater shot, produced no fallout it did create a
short-lived radioactive base surge and a pool of radioactive water around the
detonation. The base surge dissipated in less than an hour, and the pool dissipated
after a few days.
In general, film badge readings were low. Only 842 (3 percent) of the
25,399 badged participants had an exposure greater than 0.5 roentgens (RI. Of
these, 56 exposures were over 3.0 R: 2 Army, 4 Navy and Navy civilians, 49 Air
Force, and 1 other civilian. The established JTF 8 Maximum Permissible Exposure
(MPE) was 3.0 R.
The two Army men with over 3.0 R exposure served with the unit that decontaminated
the aircraft involved in cloud sampling and as such were authorized
an MPE of 20.0 R. All the Air Force personnel over 3.0 R were asscciated with
cloud sampling (crew, maintenance, sample removal , or decontamination) and were
also authorized an WPE of 20.0 R before the operation started. The highest
total exposure recorded in this group was 17.682 R: this was also the highest
for the entire operation. There were 19 other Air Force exposures over 10.0 R.
The Navy personnel recording over 3.0 R were on USS Sioux (ATF-751, which
was involved in collecting samples of weapon debris from the radioactive pool
of water created by the underwater SWORDFISH shot. This group was allowed an
MPE of 7.0 R.
Evidence exists that many of the badges worn by personnel’during DOMINIC
were defectively sealed and recorded density changes due to moisture, light,
and heat in addition to nuclear radiation. A 1979-1980 reevaluation of 1,349
UOMINIC I film badges showed that 45 percent exhibited some damage related to
light, heat, and age due to defective wax seals. Environmental damage was observed
on 98 percent of the badges, which had a developed density equivalent
Of over 0.4 R (gasana).T hese findings show, for example, that one-third of the
higher -USS Princeton (LPH-5) exposures should actually read zero. The lack Of
any known activity during DOMINIC I that would result in exposures over 3.0 R
except for Sioux and the high correlation between environmental damage and high
dose readings indicate most of these readings are higher than the exposure actually
received. Nevertheless, all personnel have been assigned the recorded
exposure reading’in records maintained by the Navy.
One of the Thor rockets being launched at Johnston Island with a nuclear
payload burned on the launch pad. The high explosives in the nuclear warhead
detonated spreading alpha contamination around the launch complex. It took
several weeks to decontaminate and rebuild the launch complex. Stringent personnel
safety measures were enforced during the cleanup. No one received significant
contamination from this accident.
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