ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (AP) -- Descendants of families near a New Mexico nuclear test site want tourists to know residents suffered for years afterward and some of their children may have been affected, seven decades after an atomic bomb helped end World War II.
Hundreds of visitors are expected Saturday to visit the Trinity Test site as federal officials open up the historic grounds for a rare opportunity for tourists to view the site of the world's first atomic blast. The site typically opens for a few hours for at least once a year.
But as the 70th anniversary of test approaches, residents are pressing for acknowledgement and compensation. They say the test caused long-term health problems, including rare forms of cancer, for many families living in the area at the time.
"The history of the bomb is always told through the eyes of scientists and industry," said Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders. "We've been left out of the narrative."
During the Manhattan Project, a World War II program that provided enriched uranium for the atomic bomb, scientists in the secret town of Los Alamos worked to develop the bomb that would later dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
On July 16, 1945, Los Alamos scientists successfully exploded the first atomic bomb at the Trinity site, located near Alamogordo. The steel tower that held the bomb disintegrated. Left in its place at the Trinity Site was a crater that stretched a half mile and was several feet deep.
The explosion was felt for miles in the remote area of southern New Mexico where an estimated 19,000 people lived. It took days for the radioactive debris to settle over New Mexico's Tularosa Basin.
"My father was a 3-year-old at the time of the explosion," Cordova said.
He later died from a third battle with cancer, said Cordova, who plans to lead around 50 protesters on Saturday.
A study conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that exposure rates near the Trinity Site were thousands of times higher than currently allowed. However, that research didn't take into account internal exposure, in which radioactive materials are absorbed in the body.
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