As residents in Beirut frantically search the rubble for loved ones after yesterday’s deadly explosion, the world searches for answers as to why the earth-shaking explosion happened in the first place. Videos of the eerie mushroom cloud and its bloody aftermath immediately flooded social media in the moments following the blast.
Many have already calling it Beirut’s Hiroshima moment, and although the explosion wasn’t caused by an atomic bomb, the horror that spread through the capital city–and beyond–is no less alarming than had it been one. The blast created a 405-foot crater, killed dozens (with many still unaccounted for), and sent a shock-wave through the entire geo-political community with heads-of-state weighing in and urging rushes to judgement.
Although it’s only been a day since the disaster struck, all signs are pointing to the cause of the explosion as being an abandoned warehouse filled with a massive, abandoned shipment of ammonium nitrate, the same chemical used in the infamous Oklahoma City bombing in the 1990s.
As the entire world continues to process the tragedy, one small Canadian community in the Northwest Territory is reminded of its unique connection to one of the deadliest bombings in world history–Hiroshima.
As World War II was in full swing, the quiet NWT community of Délı̨nę was busy with workers and families eeking-out a living during one of the world’s most chaotic chapters, when, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, the Canadian Government informed the local Uranium mine that a very large order of Uranium was needed for a top-secret project, the details of which were tightly-kept, closely-guarded. It wasn’t until after the war ended that the community was informed that their participation was a key component in the development of the nuclear bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
When the startling news was announced, government officials thought the community would be proud of the critical role they played in helping to end the war, but the opposite response resulted. The prevailing opinion in the community was that the government had betrayed them by taking advantage of their mining labor to support a deadly bombing that, had the miners known ahead of time what the project was for, would have refused participation.
Although covert government operations surrounding nuclear activity are expected and normal, it gets tricky when entire communities are asked to toe-the-line with no explanation. Society is trained to look the other way, really and not ask probing questions. From nuclear missile silos dotting Anheuser Busch barley fields in Montana to the world’s largest nuclear lab in rural East Idaho which is down the road from the wellness company Melaleuca, the government’s response is always the same: “Nothing to see here.”
75 years later, the wounds from that chapter in Délı̨nę remain unhealed. No government apology has arrived and therefore the pain persists. So, it’s little wonder why an explosion in faraway Lebanon hits home for the folks in Délı̨nę, especially when the world refers to it as Beirut’s Hiroshima moment.