According to a new book from Eric Schlosser — the investigative journalist behind the books Fast Food Nation and Reefer Madness — Philadelphia almost fell prey to a nuclear bomb accident more than forty years ago.
In the course of reporting the just-released book, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident and the Illusion of Safety, Schlosser obtained a newly declassified document about a United States Air Force B-52 bomber that broke up over North Carolina in 1961.
Two hydrogen bombs fell from the plane, each carrying a four megaton warhead, hundreds of times more powerful than the bomb that hit Hiroshima. The only reason that this nuclear bomb accident didn’t lead to an explosion was because we got very, very lucky.
While parts of North Carolina would have been completely obliterated, reports say that lethal fallout would have been deposited over northern cities, including Philadelphia and even New York.
In total, Schlosser finds that approximately 700 “significant” nuclear bomb accidents or incidents occurred between 1950 and 1968.