“Every workshop was separated, some produced parts and some were in charge of assembly,” Wang Suide, a 76-year-old former soldier, told Xinhua News Agency half a century after China detonated its first atomic bomb.
He came to know he was working on the bomb project only after he heard on TV that China had become the fifth nuclear power. A government news release at that time said, “China exploded an atomic bomb at 3pm on Oct 16, 1964, thereby successfully carrying out its first nuclear test”.
Some of the old buildings in the research and test locations now serve as an education center as the nuclear base was shut down in the 1990s, Xinhua revealed. The government has housed 500 workers of the first nuclear plant along with their families of the first plant in Hefei, capital of Anhui province.
Another worker, Dong Dianju, 73, spent for 34 years at the atomic bomb test base inside the location of a factory, Factory No 221 in Qinghai province.
50 yrs ago today, China successfully detonated its 1st atomic bomb, becoming the worlds 5th nuclear power.pic.twitter.com/ouE4MBE0oY
— Alex Jay (@AlexJayZA) October 16, 2014
“The weeds were taller than people, you could not even open your eyes when winds blew,” he said about the time he arrived at the remote, thinly populated area in 1958. The temperature reached -40C in winter, and one took to winter clothes after August.
In interviews with the official Xinhua, Ren Tie, described how he lost all his teeth by age 50 due to radiation. He was among those tasked to clean the field after the test.
“I love to read newspapers, watch documentaries and the military channel,” said Wang, who also enjoys gardening.