Petrov details efforts to limit contamination from the Totskoye nuclear exercise in 1954.
August 16, 1954
Letter, G. Zhukov to the Marshal of the Soviet Union, Comrade N.A. Bulganin
GSh [General Staff] Archive d. 5[?2]
To Marshal of the Soviet Union
Comrade N.A. Bulganin
Having studied your instructions on site, issues connected with ensuring the safety of troops and of the population at the upcoming corps exercise in the area of the Totskoye camps upon the dropping of an atomic bomb, as well as having discussed, in the small office of the CPSU oblast’ committee, issues connected with the temporary evacuation of the population and the removal of grain and vegetable crops in the area of the exercise, we came to the decision on the necessity of conducting the exercise during 10 through 15 September of this year per the following considerations:
I. Cloudy weather with rain is expected in Chkalovskaya Oblast’ in the second half of September. Winds will be predominantly north and north-easterly.
Cloudy weather and rain will seriously complicate the operations of the carrier-aircraft and deprive it of the chance to visually observe the prepared target in advance, without which the drop of the atomic bomb at the exercise is forbidden.
North and north-easterly winds blowing in the direction of the railroad and the large population centers of Buzuluk, Totskoye, and Sorochinsk, as well as rain, could trigger settlement of radioactive substances from the explosion cloud both in the area of the target as well as along the path of its movement towards the mentioned population centers. With such weather, the drop of the atomic bomb under safety conditions will be absolutely impossible.
Moreover, the expected inclement weather (a drop in temperature, rain) elicits more complications in completing measures connected with evacuation and the temporary removal of the population:
- from population centers within the 8-kilometer restricted zone, 5 days before the start of the exercise – 2000 people;
- from centers, in the zone of 8 to 15 km from the center of the target, 2-3 hours prior to the explosion – up to 30,000 people;
- from centers along the flight path of the carrier aircraft in a strip 10 km wide and 20 km deep from the center of the target, 2-3 hours prior to the explosion – 1000 people;
The presence of the ill, the aged, and children among the population seriously complicates carrying out evacuation measures in cold and rainy weather conditions.
In connection with the fact that operations to prepare the atomic bombs, being conducted by the Ministry of Medium Machine Building, as well as training of the carrier aircraft crews, will take no less than two weeks, it is urgently necessary to expedite a decision on the issue of the period for conducting the military exercise in the area of the Totskoye camps.
Marshal of the Soviet Union
16 August 1954
Zhukov informs Bulganin of his efforts to ensure the safety of troops and ordinary citizens during the Totskoye nuclear exercise.
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