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SANTA FE — Mid-July is a momentous time in New Mexico’s history. On July 14, 1881, Pat Garrett shot Billy the Kid. The Kid is arguably the world’s most famous outlaw. The news quickly traveled around the world.
On July 16, 1945, the world’s first nuclear explosion occurred at Trinity Site, north of Alamogordo. According to history, news of that event traveled nowhere but Los Alamos, Washington, D.C., London, Potsdam and Moscow.
The Trinity test came as a surprise to New Mexicans except for those in Los Alamos. Many family members of those at the site climbed a mountain above town and looked to the southeast for the explosion. Rain held it up. But at 5:29:30 a.m. it happened.
The official word was that a powder house near Alamogordo exploded and that no one was hurt. For years, it appeared that no one was hurt. But then residents near the site began developing cancer at a much higher than normal rate.
The government denied it for many years until the New Mexico congressional delegation began studying the results of the Los Alamos Historical Document Retrieval and Assessment project.
The study was a 10 year effort to examine every document generated at Los Alamos since its inception that might relate to public health. It was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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