Castle Series - 1954 Defense Nuclear Agency Report

Nuclear Weapons Tests - Nuclear Test Personnel Review.

Prepared by the Defense Nuclear Agency as Executive Agency for the Department of Defense.

1 April 1982. (530 Pages)

CASTLE was a six-detonation nuclear weapon test series held at the Atomic Energy Commission's (AEC) Pacific Proving Ground (PPG) in Spring 1954. The PPG consisted principally of Enewetak and Bikini Atolls in the northwestern Marshall Islands in the Central Pacific Ocean.

The CASTLE series was held to test large-yield thermonuclear, or hydrogen devices. The devices were tested at the PPG by a joint military and civilian organisation, designated as Joint Task Force 7 (JTF 7). This was a military organisation in form, but was populated by military, civil service, and contractor personnel of the Department of Defense (DOD) and AEC.

Admission of Exposure

In this report, it is reported that a limited number of personnel were exposed to limits which were considerably in excess to the initially established CASTLE Maximum limit. Which was established at 3.9 roentgens (R) gamma within any 13-week period of the operation. In particular, three members of the U.S. Navy Bikini Boat Pool had heavily exposed badges with readings from 85 to 95 R and 28 Army and Air Force personnel had film badge exposures that read as high as 78 R!

The first event of the series, designated BRAVO, also led to fallout on Navy ships which exceeded the 3.9 R limit. To allow for operational completion of the remaining CASTLE shots, it became necessary to issue a number of waiver authorisations permitting exposures of as much as 7.8 R. In a limited number of cases, even this was exceeded!

As per usual reporting techniques, the average exposure is taken and used for the exposure rate. The individuals who received excessive dosages and beta burns are recorded in the highest R column. The Rongerik Air Force personnel recorded a high dose of 96 R, way over the 3.9 R limit!

Protection during the radiation survey, consisted of'Booties'

Not much protection when removing filter paper from a sampler aircraft:

The personnel being monitored by Geiger counter were not wearing protective clothing:

Even in 1954, Enewetak became the main storage area for contaminated items:


When the levels of exposure exceeded the limits, the U.S. Government issued waivers to raise the limits, exposing some personnel to dangerously high levels. Radiation burns and lack of protective clothing is all documented in this report. The lack of care for personnel so that the tests could continue is unbelievable and can be summed up in one picture:

The full 530 page report can be read here.

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