A History of Innovative Advocacy to Protect Health from Nuclear Threats
PSR-LA has a thirty year history of innovative, effective advocacy to protect public health from nuclear threats. Below are highlights of our work over the years – click on each image to see the full size photograph.
In 1981, PSR-LA organized a conference on the medical consequences of nuclear war that was attended by over 3,000 people and catalyzed LA’s anti-nuclear movement.
The following year, PSR-LA produced Race to Oblivion, a film that featured the conference and was screened in thousands of households throughout the nation.
Race to Oblivion starred Burt Lancaster and was written and directed by Edmund North, writer and producer of classic 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still. You can view the film here.
PSR joined with Soviet physicians to found the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). PSR-LA actively participated in IPPNW, as did notable celebrities. Pictured here is PSR-LA co-founder Pauline Saxon and other PSR-LA members with musician Graham Nash.
PSR-LA also led delegations of physicians to meet with their counterparts overseas, including trips to China, Germany, Kazakhstan and Great Britain.
In 1985, PSR was the American recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War for building public pressure to reverse the nuclear arms race.. PSR-LA co-founders Pauline and Richard Saxon MD attended the ceremony in Oslo, Norway.
PSR was instrumental in winning a ban on above ground nuclear testing in 1963 by documenting the presence of strontium-90, a dangerous radionuclide, in children's baby teeth. However, a total of 804 underground tests, which also released dangerous radiation, continued at the Nevada Test Site until 1992.
PSR-LA organized many visits to the Nevada Test Site to protest nuclear weapons testing and the high rates of cancer among people exposed to radioactive fallout. The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act was passed in 1990. The US signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996, but has yet to ratify it.
PSR-LA works to bring home to Angelinos our message about health threats posed by nuclear weapons. This photo, featured in an "Atomic City" exhibit curated by PSR-LA, shows Los Angeles City Hall lit from a nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site in 1955.
A local connection to the nuclear threat is apparent in the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, site of a partial nuclear meltdown just 30 miles from Los Angeles. In 1989, PSR-LA joined with community members and advocates to stop the relicensing of a nuclear "hot lab" at the site and address contamination issues.
PSR-LA members Jeanne and Sol Londe MD, Dan Hirsch from Committee to Bridge the Gap, and area residents meet with Senator Barbara Boxer to discuss their concerns about the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. Thirty years later we are continuing to fight for cleanup of its nuclear and chemical contamination.
PSR-LA organized a military tour of Los Angeles in 2005 to show the many places in Southern California impacted by the legacy of nuclear and military production. Pictured above, Dan Hirsch educates PSR members about the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. View PSR-LA's military toxins tour guide here.
PSR-LA utilizes art and film to educate the public about our nuclear history and present threats. In 1995, we held an "Atomic Age Film Series" featuring a variety of films from the nuclear era and guest speakers.
PSR-LA's "Atomic City" exhibit included photos and cultural artifacts from the atomic era. It was held at the downtown Los Angeles Central Library in 1998 and at CSUN in 2001. Read LA Times reviews hereand here.
In 2002, PSR-LA co-sponsored a public health summit on weapons of mass destruction at UCLA. The summit featured national experts on chemical, nuclear, and biological threats. View the curriculum here.
PSR-LA held a successful conference in 2006 on the Medical Consequences of the War in Iraq. We were among the first to publicize the true number of civilian causalities, as well as the growing problem of traumatic brain injury in returning US troops. Read more here.
PSR-LA has commemorated the anniversaries of the atomic bombing of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki throughout the years. Pictured above, PSR-LA Health Ambassador Dr. Farideh Kiouhmer holds a photograph of the destruction during a procession to LA's City Hall.
On August 9, 2009, PSR-LA Board Member Dr. JImmy Hara was presented with a poster by Arin Ghosh, UNA Pacific Chapter Youth Chair, that captures PSR-LA's core message - nuclear weapons threaten our very survival. Read more about the event here.
PSR-LA Board Members Dr. Margaret Wacker and Dr. Stephen Coles discuss concerns about the effects of a nuclear attack in Los Angeles at a 2010 preparedness event sponsored by the LA County Dept. of Public Health. Read more about the seminar here.
PSR-LA organized a "flash mob" performance in Hollywood on the day that the Department of Homeland Security held a preparedness exercise simulating emergency response to nuclear detonation in Los Angeles. Read more about the flash mob here.
PSR-LA and the Ploughshares Fund co-hosted the opening night screening of the film Countdown to Zero on July 30, 2010 at the Arclight Theatre in Hollywood. Following the film, a panel discussed current nuclear threats and advocacy efforts. Read more here.
PSR-LA works closely with our national office on many initiatives. Pictured above is PSR national's Dr. Ira Helfand with PSR-LA Board Members and Health Ambassadors at our 30th Anniversary Member Dinner. Read more about the event here.
PSR-LA joined with artists Trast Howard and Keiko Yanagida to promote their revival of the "Anti-Nuclear War Head", a unique and powerful sculpture that promotes awareness and vigilance in efforts for a nuclear weapons free world. Read more here.
PSR-LA opposes missile defense tests, regularly held at Vandenberg Airforce base with support from the LA Air Force Base in El Segundo. Pictured above. PSR-LA Board Member Dr. Stephen Coles protests an ICMB missile launch on nuclear weapons abolition day 2010.
PSR-LA regularly holds educational events on nuclear weapons and health. Pictured above, PSR-LA Board Member Dr. Jimmy Hara introduces Dr. James Yamazaki at the Japanese American National Museum, where he discussed his book, "Children of the Atomic Bomb." Read more about the event here.
Security expert Dr. Bennett Ramberg guides the conversation with Dr. Yamazaki, who relays his experiences as a World War II veteran who was the first US physician to visit Nagasaki after the atomic bombing and subsequently made a career studying the multi-generational effects of radiation on health.
PSR-LA teamed up with Dr. Yamazaki to make a film on his lifelong dedication to a nuclear weapons free world. Dr. Yamazaki is especially concerned that young people are aware of the nuclear threat. See a short clip of Dr. Yamazaki with UCLA students here.
PSR-LA jumped into action after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan caused a triple nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. We immediately produced and disseminated fact sheets in English and Spanish, Read our fact sheet in English here. and Spanish here.
Also in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, PSR-LA prepared and deployed our health ambassador physicians for media and speaking engagements. Pictured above, Dr. Steve Coles presents on nuclear power and the Fukushima disaster to the Southern California Political Action Group in April 2011.
PSR-LA was deeply concerned by safety issues at the San Onofre nuclear power plant when a leak of radioactive steam revealed damage to its reactors’ replacement steam generator tubes. We endorsed a Friends of the Earth campaign to keep the plant shut down. View the ad here.
PSR-LA Ambassador Dr. Bill Perkins presented at a meeting of the San Clemente City Council to address safety concerns of the San Onofre nuclear plant.
PSR-LA co-sponsored a Hiroshima anniversary vigil in August 2013 with Save Chain Reaction, a group dedicated to saving Paul Conrad’s historic sculpture at the Santa Monica Civic Center. Read more here.
PSR-LA has hosted monthly Global Security seminars at UCLA for 10 years. Pictured above, Dr. Jeff Patterson presents on the nuclear industrial complex.
PSR-LA engages in educational and advoacy efforts with eleted officials on a local and national level. Pictured above, PSR-LA and community members with LA City Councilmember Mitch Englander after the Council approves a resolution supporting a full cleanup of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. Read more here.
In November, 2013, PSR-LA members Dr. Farideh Kioumher and Dr. Steve Coles joined representatives from PeaceAction West and Nuclear Age Peace Foundation to meet wiih Senator Diane Feinstein's office, advocating against the refurbishment of 561 nuclear weapons and for increased diplomacy with Iran.
In 2014, PSR-LA helped restore the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) Work Group, the longstanding public participation vehicle for the site's cleanup. The October meeting featured John Pace, an eyewitness to the 1959 meltdown, who joined with other former workers and Dr. Bob Dodge to discuss nuclear activities at the site and the impact on health. Read more here.
PSR-LA is an active participant in the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons campaign. Pictured above, Dr. Bob Dodge demonstrates the destructive force of nuclear weapons at a November 2014 training. See Dr. Dodge's demonstration here.
At the February 2015 SSFL Work Group meeting, PSR-LA Associate Director Denise Duffield presents on a lawsuit to stop the improper demolition and disposal of radioactive structures at SSFL. Read more about the lawsuit here and a recent update here.
PSR-LA launched the Community Costs Project in 2015 to help individuals and communities calculate how much of their tax dollars were spent on nuclear weapons programs in 2014. Read more about the project here.