- Nevada Test Site
Infobox Military Test Site
name= Nevada Test Site
caption= November 1951 nuclear test at Nevada Test Site. Test is shot "Dog" from Operation Buster, with a yield of 21 kilotons. It was the first U.S. nuclear field exercise conducted on land; troops shown are a mere 6 miles from the blast.
base_caption=United States Locator Map
float_caption=Nevada Test Site
map_caption=Map showing location of the site
Nuclear testing range
nearest_town= Las Vegas
United States Department of Energy
thermonuclear_tests=The Nevada Test Site is a
United States Department of Energyreservation located in Nye County, Nevada, about 65 miles (105 km) northwest of the City of Las Vegas, near coord|37|07|N|116|03|W|. Formerly known as the Nevada Proving Ground, the site, established on January 11, 1951for the testing of nuclear weapons, is composed of approximately 1,350 square miles (3,500 km²) of desert and mountainous terrain. Nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site began with a one- kiloton(4 terajoule) bomb dropped on Frenchman Flat on January 27, 1951. Many of the iconic images of the nuclear era come from NTS.
The Nevada Test Site has:
* 28 Areas
* 1,100 buildings
* 400 miles (643 km) paved roads
* 300 miles (482 km) unpaved roads
* 10 heliports
* 2 airstrips
Between 1951 and 1992, there were a total of 928 announced nuclear tests at Nevada Test Site. Of those, 828 were underground. ["United States Nuclear Tests"; July 1945 through September 1992, DOE/NV--209-REV 15 December 2000, p. xv. [http://www.nv.doe.gov/library/publications/historical/DOENV_209_REV15.pdf] ] (Sixty-two of the underground tests included multiple, simultaneous nuclear detonations, adding 93 detonations and bringing the total number of NTS nuclear detonations to 1,021, of which 921 were underground.) [One multiple test took place in Colorado; the other 62 were at NTS. [http://www.osti.gov/opennet/document/press/pc25tab1.html] ] The site is covered with
subsidence craters from the testing. The Nevada Test Site was the primary testing location of American nuclear devices; 126 tests were conducted elsewhere (many at the Pacific Proving Groundsin the Marshall Islands).
During the 1950s, the
mushroom cloudfrom these tests could be seen for almost 100 miles in either direction, including the city of Las Vegas, where the tests became tourist attractions. Americans headed for Las Vegas to witness the distant mushroom clouds that could be seen from the downtown hotels.
July 17, 1962the test shot "Little Feller I" of Operation Sunbeambecame the last atmospheric test detonation at the Nevada Test Site. Underground testing of weapons continued until September 23, 1992, and although the United States did not ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the articles of the treaty are nevertheless honored and further tests have not occurred. Tests not involving the full creation of a critical mass(subcritical testing) continue.
One notable test shot was the "Sedan" shot of
Operation Storaxon July 6 1962, a 104 kilotonshot for the Operation Plowsharewhich sought to prove that nuclear weapons could be used for peaceful means in creating bays or canals—it created a crater 1,280 feet (390 m) wide and 320 feet (100 m) deep that can still be seen today. While most of the larger tests were conducted elsewhere, NTS was home to tests in the 500 kiloton to 1 megaton (2 to 4 petajoule) range, which caused noticeable seismic effects in Las Vegas.
From 1986 through 1994, two years after the United States put full-scale nuclear weapons testing on hold indefinitely, at least 536 demonstrations were held at the test site involving 37,488 participants and 15,740 arrests, according to government records.
After the demonstrations, held by the American Peace Test,
Nevada Desert Experienceand Corbin Harneythrough the Shundahai Network continued to protest the government's continued nuclear weapons work and effort to put a repository for highly radioactive waste adjacent to the test site at Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
The site was scheduled to be used to conduct the testing of a 1,100-ton conventional explosive in an operation known as
Divine Strakein June 2006. The bomb is a possible alternative to nuclear bunker busters, which Congress has been reluctant to fund, despite support from President Bush. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/30/AR2006033001735.html Pentagon to Test a Huge Conventional Bomb ] ] However, after objection from Nevada and Utah members of Congress, the operation was postponed until 2007. On 22 February 2007the Defense Threat Reduction Agency(DTRA) officially canceled the experiment.
As of 2004, the test site offers public tours on approximately a monthly basis, although the taking of souvenir material is prohibited. Additionally, image taking and communication devices are prohibited. [U.S. DOE/NNSA - Nevada Site Office, Nevada Test Site Tours http://www.nv.doe.gov/nts/tours.htm ]
While there are no longer any explosive tests of nuclear weapons at the site, there is still subcritical testing, used to determine the viability of the United States' aging nuclear arsenal. Additionally, the site is the location of the Area 5 Radioactive Waste Management Complex, which sorts and stores low-level radioactive waste that is not
transuranicand has a half life of no greater than 20 years. Bechtelran this complex until 2006. Several other companies won the latest bid for the contract. They then combined (formed) a new company called National Security Technologies. Interestingly, this new company has AECOM as part of the team. AECOM used to be Holmes and Narver. Holmes and Narver held the Nevada Test Site contract for many, many years before Bechtel had it.
Located at the ground zero for the Operation Teapot nuclear test is the Transportation Incident Exercise Site, which replicates multiple terrorist radiological incidents with train, plane, automobile, truck, and helicopter props.
Landmarks and geography
The town of
Mercury, Nevadais located on the grounds of the NTS, and at one time housed contingents from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories. Area 51and the proposed high-level nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountainare located nearby. The BREN Tower, a convert|1527|ft|m|sing=on high guyed tower originally for radiation experiments with an unshielded reactor simulating the amounts of radiation received by survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is located in the NTS at Jackass Flats.
Cancer and test site
In a report by the
National Cancer Institute, released in 1997, it was determined that ninety atmospheric tests at the Nevada Test Site (NTS) deposited high levels of radioactive iodine-131 (5.5 exabecquerels) across a large portion of the contiguous United States, especially in the years 1952, 1953, 1955, and 1957—doses large enough, they determined, to produce 10,000 to 75,000 cases of thyroid cancer. The Radiation Exposure Compensation Actof 1990 allowed for people living downwind of NTS for at least two years in particular Nevada, Arizona or Utah counties, between January 21, 1951 – October 31, 1958 or June 30, 1962 – July 31, 1962, and suffering from certain cancers or other serious illnesses deemed to have been caused by fallout exposure to receive compensation of $50,000. By January 2006, over 10,500 claims had been approved, and around 3,000 denied, for a total amount of over $525 million in compensation dispensed to " downwinders". [http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/omp/omi/Tre_SysClaimsToDateSum.pdf] Uranium miners, mill workers and ore transporters are also eligible for $100,000 compassionate payment under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program, while $75,000 is the fixed payment amount for workers who were participants in the above-ground nuclear weapons tests.
Nuclear test series carried out at Nevada Test Site
Operation Ranger— 1951
Operation Buster-Jangle— 1951
Operation Tumbler-Snapper— 1952
Operation Upshot-Knothole— 1953
Operation Teapot— 1955
Project 56— 1955
Operation Plumbbob— 1957
Project 57, 58, 58A— 1957–1958
*Operation Hardtack II — 1958
Operation Nougat— 1961–1962
Operation Plowshare— 1961–1973 (sporadic, at least one test a year)
Operation Sunbeam— 1962
*Operation Dominic II — 1962–1963
Operation Storax— 1963
Operation Niblick— 1963–1964
Operation Whetstone— 1964–1965
*Operation Flintlock — 1965–1966
Operation Latchkey— 1966–1967
Operation Crosstie— 1967–1968
Operation Bowline— 1968–1969
Operation Mandrel— 1969–1970
Operation Emery— 1970
Operation Grommet— 1971–1972
Operation Toggle— 1972–1973
Operation Arbor— 1973–1974
Operation Bedrock— 1974–1975
*Operation Anvil — 1975–1976
Operation Fulcrum— 1976–1977
Operation Cresset— 1977–1978
*Operation Quicksilver — 1978–1979
Operation Tinderbox— 1979–1980
Operation Guardian— 1980–1981
Operation Praetorian— 1981–1982
Operation Phalanx— 1982–1983
Operation Fusileer— 1983–1984
Operation Grenadier— 1984–1985
Operation Charioteer— 1985–1986
* Operation Musketeer — 1986–1987
Operation Touchstone— 1987–1988
Operation Cornerstone— 1988–1989
Operation Aqueduct— 1989–1990
Operation Sculpin— 1990–1991
Operation Julin— 1991–1992
Iodine-131resulting from all exposure routes from all atmospheric nuclear tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site Yucca Flatarea of the Nevada Test Site is scarred with subsidence craters from underground nuclear testing
*U.S. Atomic Energy Commission
Upshot-Knothole Grable(Frenchman Flat)
Atomic Testing Museum
Nevada Desert Experience
Lookout Mountain Air Force Station
* [http://www.nv.doe.gov/nts/default.htm DOE Nevada Test Site]
* [http://digital.library.unlv.edu/ntsohp/ The Nevada Test Site Oral History Project]
* [http://www.nv.doe.gov/library/publications/historical/DOE_MA0518.pdf Origins of the Nevada Test Site]
* [http://www.washingtonwatchdog.org/documents/cfr/title28/part79.html Radiation Exposure Compensation Act]
* [http://www.et.byu.edu/~shb34/school/ground-zero.pdf Account of NTS fallout in 1955] (PDF)
* [http://rex.nci.nih.gov/massmedia/Fallout/contents.html "Study Estimating Thyroid Doses of I-131 Received by Americans From Nevada Atmospheric Nuclear Bomb Test"] ,
National Cancer Institute(1997)
* [http://www.ntshf.org/atmfacts.htm Atomic Testing Museum]
* [http://www.vce.com/nts.html Images of the Nevada Test Site] on the atomic bomb website
** [http://www.ufomind.com/area51/maps/overview/general.jpgSmall map]
** [http://www.desertsecrets.com/ntscolormap.html Detailed map showing the individual areas]
* [http://alsos.wlu.edu/qsearch.aspx?browse=places/Nevada+Test+Site,+Nevada Annotated bibliography for the Nevada Test Site from the Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues]
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