Jan. 22 Ceremony To Commemorate 1961 B-52 Nuclear Bomb Accident Near Goldsboro

Emergency personnel work to recover a buried nuclear bomb that fell into a farm field in 1961 in Wayne County. Photo courtesy US Air Force

RALEIGH – A replica of a nuclear bomb will be returning to North Carolina to commemorate the anniversary of the catastrophic 1961 B-52 nuclear bomber accident near Goldsboro in Wayne County, North Carolina. The North Carolina Peace Action will hold the remembrance ceremony on Sunday, Jan. 22 from 1:00pm-3:00pm at the Terry Sanford Federal Building on New Bern Avenue in Raleigh. The event is open to the public.

Around midnight on January 24, 1961, a B-52 bomber dropped its two 3.8 megaton nuclear bombs onto a farm in the Faro community near Goldsboro in Wayne Conty. Although one bomb was recovered, parts of the nuclear core of the other bomb remains buried at the site . This is only one of at least 76 nuclear accidents, known as “Broken Arrows,” known about with at least six nuclear weapons that were never recovered.

“Most people have never seen a nuclear weapon or know about the 1,550 nuclear weapons currently aimed at the United States and Russia,” said Joe Burton of N.C. Peace Action. “We work to educate citizens and political representatives about the dangers of nuclear weapons and the moral imperative to eliminate them.

One of two Mk.39 thermonuclear bombs in a Wayne County, NC field in 1961. Photo courtesy US Air Force

“Both the U.S. and Russia have almost accidentally launched their nuclear missiles multiple times, while false alarms of incoming nuclear missiles have been caused by power failures, faulty computer chips, solar flares, full moons and flocks of birds.”

Peace Action has been part of the effort to eliminate more than 85 percent of the world’s nuclear stock piles during the past 68 years.

In some cases, scraped nuclear weapons have been converted to fuel nuclear power plants. According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “One-tenth of America’s electricity comes from fuel made from Russian nuclear warheads.”

US Air Force personnel stand in a pit dug to recover a section of a nuclear bomb that fell in a Wayne County field in 1961. Photo courtesy US Air Force

“Peace Action’s success comes from our nationwide grassroots network made up of ordinary citizens,” said Peace Action representative Joe Cicero said. “We keep a report card on members of Congress on how they vote on nuclear weapons issues. If one submarine launched its nuclear weapons, the smoke from burning cites would block the sunlight for five to 10 years causing what’s known as ‘Nuclear Winter.’”

In addition, Sunday’s event will commemorate the second anniversary of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) coming into full force. It will also recognize the re-setting of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists “Doomsday Clock.”

Cicero said, “The international community has outlawed chemical weapons, biological weapons and now nuclear weapons. Attendees will learn how they can also be part of eliminating nuclear weapons. As the ‘Doomsday Clock’ warns us, we don’t have a minute to waste.”