Walla Walla will take part in a multiday event this week that will join Japanese and American victims of nuclear use and production.
Whitman College will present The Nagasaki-Hanford Bridge Project at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Maxey Auditorium on the school’s campus.
The featured speaker will be Mitsugi Moriguchi of Japan, a child on Aug. 9, 1945, when a plutonium bomb, code-named “Fat Man,” was dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki by the U.S. Armed Forces near the end of World War II.
It was the second instance of just two nuclear weapons ever used during war, killing more than 70,000 people and injuring and sickening many more. The plutonium for “Fat Man” was made at the Hanford nuclear weapons facility near Richland.
As an A-bomb survivor, known as a “hibakusha,” and a member of the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Testimonial Society, Moriguchi will recount what he and other survivors have lived through.
Now retired as an elementary school teacher, Moriguchi has made it his mission to ensure those stories and lessons are passed on to younger people.
Organizers of the “The Nagasaki-Hanford Bridge Project” say Moriguchi will travel to Hanford as part of this trip for the first known instance of an A-bomb survivor visiting the birthplace of “Fat Man’s” nuclear power.
Tuesday’s Whitman College presentation will include an introduction by Trisha Pritkin, board president of Consequences of Radiation Exposure, or CORE, a Washington state nonprofit.
The building and detonation of the World War II nuclear bomb has continued to affect generations through toxic radiation in both Japan and America, health officials say.
In Japan, radiation-related illnesses and disorders include numerous types of cancer, thyroid disease, heart disease and strokes.
The most known impact locally is among the “Hanford Downwinders,” people and communities exposed to radioactive contamination and nuclear fallout from nuclear production and testing fallout in the region.
They, too, suffer increased incidence of cancer and thyroid diseases. Many downwind communities continue to live with the impact of nuclear environmental toxins, experts say.
Moriguchi will meet with the Hanford Downwinders organization on Monday.
The Nagasaki-Hanford Bridge Project shines a light on cancers and other radiogenic disease seen in the young people exposed to radioactive fallout. Data show children and adolescents are far more vulnerable to the effects of ionizing radiation than adults, said Whitman College spokeswoman Gillian Frew.
The project is the first of its kind to focus on understanding and mutual support for and between those injured by nuclear use, production and testing, Frew said.
Additional Walla Walla-based events during the Nagasaki-Hanford Bridge Project will include a multimedia installation, “Hanford Reach,” by Glenna Cole Allee, an artist reception at Maxey Museum, Tuesday at 4 p.m.
Also Tuesday is a screening of “Hibakusha at the End of the World,” in the Maxey Auditorium at 7 p.m., followed by a discussion at 9 p.m.