Divine Strake is the name of a planned, but postponed, 700-ton chemical explosives test designed to simulate the blast of a low-yield nuclear weapon on a hardened underground bunker. It was originally planned for detonation at the Nevada Test Site in June 2006, however a lawsuit filed by the Western Shoshone and several downwinders forced a postponement of the test until 2007. No date has been set for the test, however it could happen as early as this spring.
Indigenous and environmental groups fear that the test would eject into the atmosphere radioactive particles that they suspect were deposited from several 1950s above-ground nuclear tests (including Coulomb-B; see graphic above) at the Nevada Test Site. These long-lived radioisotopes, including Plutonium-239 and Americium-241, which would contaminate our air, soil, water and food supplies if they became airborne, are likely contaminants in the soils at the Divine Strake ground-zero. The radioactive isotopes in the cloud could be deposited anywhere in the United States (1).
Divine Strake is nearly identical to a conventional explosive test dubbed 'Dice Throw' that was conducted at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico in 1976. Dice Throw 'rattled windows in towns located 25-35 miles away and sent a large gray cloud over the nearby San Andreas Mountains.'
What does 'Divine Strake' mean? The Department of Defense employs a unique convention that determines the first two letters that must be used when naming a test or experiment. As for Divine Strake, the first two letters, 'DI,' corresponds to the category of Advanced Concepts Technology Demonstration that has direct systems application. DTRA, the Pentagon agency that is sponsoring Divine Strake, chose a word that begins with these two letters [DIVINE] to label all of the tests in a series of proposed experiments. To distinguish individual tests in the series, a scientist at the agency suggested using the names of WWII aircraft for the second words: names in DTRA's test series include Divine Thunderbolt, Divine Albatross, and Divine Viking. Although Strake doesn't appear to be named after an actual WWII aircraft, it perhaps was chosen for the meaning of the word 'Strake', which is a' device for controlling air flow over an aircraft.'
A picture can tell a thousand words. And what does this picture tell?
It tells (we thinks) that the Pentagon has already readied the blast site for Divine Strake. Oh yeah! The erosion control and spill containment trenches are in place, a 30+ foot pit for the Divine Strake explosives is collecting dust, and the wires are probably all connected. Oh yeah folks, they're serious about doing this one....
Divine Strake: a simulation of a nuclear test
Divine Strake entails the explosion of 700 tons of slurry mix of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil. Can you imagine 700 tons of slurry? 700 tons weighs about the same as 54 SCHOOL BUSSES.
It is surely too heavy to transport by any plane.
Or even a missile.
The only rocket-like device in the U.S. arsenal that can store 700 tons of liquid explosives is the SPACE SHUTTLE EXTERNAL TANK, which can carry up to 720 tons of fuel.
However, the EXTERNAL TANK isn't a missile. It's just a big 'tank.' The Department of Defense would have to (somehow) fly the Space Shuttle over enemy territory and then drop the EXTERNAL TANK with the hope that it will land on a bunker storing WMDs.
Therefore, one must assume that Divine Strake is meant to simulate the explosion of a smaller device capable of a extraordinarily tremendous blast. The only such device would be a nuclear weapon. And that is precisely the purpose of Divine Strake.
View the Guardian's (U.K.) Flash movie on the historical (leading up to the present) push for low-yield nuclear weapon/Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator development in the U.S. Government
View this excellent video (June 2006) on the U.S.'s use of Depleted Uranium in Iraq and the the likely casualties from a nuclear strike on Iran, involving "only" six B61-11 bunker-busting nukes on 2 nuclear sites. Speaker: Dr. Helen Caldicott.
Michel Chossudovsky's (GlobalResearch.ca) articles:
The Dangers of a Middle East Nuclear War
Is the Bush Administration Planning a Nuclear Holocaust?
Read: 1993 Associated Press article 'Moratorium stimulates simulating bomb tests'
Divine Strake: A Dirty Bomb
During the era of U.S. atomic testing in Nevada from 1951 to 1992, hundreds of atmospheric and underground nuclear explosions were conducted at various regions of the Nevada Test Site including one valley called 'Yucca Flat.' Those open-air and numerous leaky underground tests formed clouds of hot radioactive gasses and debris that were picked up by the jet stream and deposited as radioactive fallout across the United States and abroad.
The proposed Divine Strake test, which would be the largest conventional explosive test conducted in the U.S. since 1993, is planned in a region of the Nevada Test Site (NTS) - one of the world's largest radioactively contaminated areas - that officials insist is devoid of radioactively contaminated soils. Test site officials have failed to provide any proof to substantiate this claim. The NTS is off-limits to civilians and scientists, so only the Department of Energy, which oversees the test site, can provide this proof.
Listen to the comments of Robert Hager, Esq., on NPR (KNPR-NV) Radio on May 10, 2006
One official even told a Las Vegas paper in June that the ground-zero is located in an area that is "considered to be somewhat pristine."
Environmental and indigenous groups disagree with these claims and in April 2006 filed a lawsuit, which is still pending, to stop the test. Opponents of Divine Strake point to two possible sources of contamination of the ground-zero for Divine Strake.
1. The proposed Divine Strake GZ (ground-zero) is eight miles west of Yucca Flat, where six particular above-ground tests were associated with fallout that uniquely traveled in a westward direction, over the Divine Strake GZ. Those tests were named Smoky, Turk, Shasta, Kepler, Galileo and Coulomb B. Coulomb-B was a 'safety test' involving the deliberate dispersal of Plutonium (Pu-239), which is a radioactive substance that is perhaps the single greatest public health concern regarding Divine Strake.
There are several reasons to believe that the DOE's estimate of the public's exposure to Pu-239 from Divine Strake, which it claims falls within EPA safe limits for public health, is very wrong:
Safety tests, such as Coulomb-B, were designed to determine how far plutonium would be scattered in accidents involving a nuclear bomb. The tests involved the release of the pure form of plutonium 239, which is 1,000 times more potent than the dust- and debris-covered form that results from an atomic blast. Only ten micrograms (a microscopic amount) of Plutonium-239, if inhaled, is an amount 'almost certain to induce cancer.' The safety tests released significantly more Pu239 than even a typical nuclear test, which splits (fissions) most of its Pu239 into other isotopes. Most of the safety tests were mock-ups of an accident involving a real nuclear warhead. Only one safety test, 'Project 57' (Shot Double Tracks) in Area 13, involved a real warhead that was estimated to have released about 250 Curies of Pu239 - the amount a warhead associated with a 1.5 kiloton yield would contain. [One Curie of Pu239 is about 16 grams] A study carried out by Bechtel Nevada in 1996 estimated that Project 57 released 60 to 100 Curies of Plutonium in surface soils at the Nevada Test Site/Tonopah Test Range.
Test site workers expected no yield for Coulomb-B, a 1957 safety test, however its nuclear material partially underwent a fission reaction with a slight yield of 300 tons. Coulomb-B's small nuclear yield was so small that the 'height of burst' was only 3 feet high. The (plutonium) material, as with similar safety tests, was ejected into the air using an all-oralloy gas-boosted system.
Coulomb-B's dust cloud initially traveled west at 18 mph to Death Valley, Calif., then broke into two segments, one at 10,000 ft. and the other at 18,000 ft.; those clouds eventually traveled in an easterly direction and made it as far east as several Plains States and Texas. Coulomb-B dumped a large amount of radiation directly over Area 16 (and the U16b complex) however the amount of Curies (of Pu239) released is unknown; it is believed that it consisted of several pounds (of Pu239).
This is what is known:
A 1977 DOE study found that the average plutonium inventory at 9 safety test sites at the NTS was 11 Curies/site. (R.O. Gilbert, Revised Total Amounts of 239,240Pu in Surface Soil at Safety-Test Sites, in Transuranics in Desert Ecosystems, ed. M.G. White, P.B. Dunaway, and D.L. Wireman, U.S. Department of Energy, Nevada Operations Office, NVO-181 (1977), 423-429)
A 1991 study found that a safety test site in Area 8 has measurements of 100,000 pCi/g.
In 1979, an Atomic Energy Commission study indicated that plutonium-239 levels in soils in Utah were as much as 3.8 times higher than average concentrations elsewhere and was attributed to the handful of 'safety tests' conducted in 1957 and 1958 of which Coulomb-B (1957) was a part. Most of the other safety tests distributed the Pu239 to the north, south and east.
In recent years the DOE estimated that the 'safety tests' contaminated 2,885 acres (4.5 square miles) with plutonium in excess of 40 pCi/g. The total area of contamination of the Nevada Test Site from those safety tests stated in 1970 by the Atomic Energy Commission was 250 square miles. What are the contamination readings for the other 245.5 square miles?
This 2005 DOE map shows a 'potential emission source' of Plutonium and Americium that exists (in Area 16) less than 1 mile from the Divine Strake GZ.
A 2004 NTS report (DOE NV 1178 1065), on page 7, shows that surface soils in Area 16 contain 3.7 Curies of Plutonium 239/240 (widely dispersed across the Area). The 3.7 Curies value is (suspiciously) one of the lowest given at the NTS. Areas surrounding [Area] 16 (Area 18, Area 17, Area 30) have higher values. This doesn't make sense since those Areas are further away than Area 16 from Yucca Flat where most atmospheric tests took place.
Conclusion: Area 16 must be contaminated with Pu239 many times - possibly hundreds or thousands of times - higher than background levels and far higher than what is indicated by the DOE's data ( (DOE NV 1178 1065). In a 2004 report, the DOE indicated that Area 16 is contaminated with only 44.63 grams (or 2.8 Curies) of Pu239.
Learn more with this interactive map of the ground-zeros and fallout patterns of those six 1950s nuclear tests
Aerial view map of Divine Strake GZ, Galileo GZ and Yucca Flat
2. Divine Strake is planned for detonation at the U16b Tunnel Complex (in Area 16) above an existing reinforced limestone tunnel. The Divine Strake GZ (ground-zero) is 1.1 miles from a tunnel complex (U16a complex) where six underground nuclear tests were conducted from 1962 to 1971. Two of those six tests, named Marshmallow, Gum Drop, Double Play, Ming Vase, Diamond Dust and Diamond Mine, leaked radiation. The Department of Energy reported that the 'Marshmallow' test leaked radioactivity for several days after the detonation, which contaminated nearby surface soils. 'Double Play' released a cloud of radio-iodine isotopes that traveled for 200 miles towards the northeast, over the Divine Strake ground-zero and well beyond the Nevada Test Site boundaries.
| Map of the six underground tests conducted within 1.1 miles of the Divine Strake GZ
Re-suspension from natural forces over the past several decades at the Nevada Test Site could have carried radioactive particles from U16a complex (or other areas) to the Divine Strake ground zero. In 1998, a Department of Energy research team found that plutonium had travelled almost one mile from the site of a 1968 underground nuclear test on water molecules called colloids (microscopic specks of clay suspended in ground water). [Remember: the Divine Strake GZ lies only 1.1 miles from an area that the government has publicly admitted contains radioactive surface contamination. If radiation can travel on colloids about 1 mile in 30 years, then the radiation leaked from tests conducted over 35 years ago at U16a could have already reached the Divine Strake GZ.] Wind and fire, similarly, could have resulted in re-suspension contamination at the Divine Strake ground-zero. More.
The dust cloud: Death with Wings
The Divine Strake explosion is expected to create a dust cloud - containing a substantial amount of soil matter from the ground-zero - that will reach 10,000 feet. Entrained in this dust cloud will be radioactive particles that were deposited from the fallout of several nuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site. The radioactive matter from prior atomic testing still poses a grave danger to peoples downwind since several common radioisotopes found in fallout won't decay to safe levels for thousands of years.
Drawing on knowledge that airborne dust can travel great distances, many environmentalists fear that these particles could get picked up by the jet stream and reach the East Coast. Wind-swept dust has reached Florida from North Africa and pollutants from coal-fired plants in China have reached the U.S. Therefore, a radioactive dust cloud formed above Nevada's desert could reach any corner of the North American continent, or beyond.
...And that doesn't include hydrocarbon toxins
The following chemical byproducts of the ammonium nitrate-fuel oil blast (equivalent to a 600-ton TNT explosive force) will also be present in the 10,000 foot high dust cloud:
More than 2 tons cyanide
1,535 pounds phosgene (carcinogen; pulmonary agent; used as a chemical weapon in World War I)
1,318 pounds methylene chloride (carcinogen)
2,387 pounds carbon tetrachloride (carcinogen)
1,650 pounds chlorine
Read more: The 21st Century motto ought to be "Not on my planet" printed in The Spectrum
More on Divine Strake on our Nevada page
Did you know that... U.S. nuclear testing began in the 1940s and ceased as recently as the 1990s. The U.S. continues to conduct sub-critical nuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site.
The fallout from above-ground (1951-1961) and leaky underground tests (1961-1992) conducted at the Nevada Test Site deposited radioactivity over most of the Northern Hemisphere. That fallout won't decay to safe levels for thousands of years and still remains in aerosol form in our atmosphere. The fallout in our environment is continually entering our food and water supplies and has been linked to cancer, genetic defects and a myriad of neurological/immune diseases.
The censorship of these elementary facts and the health consequences of fallout are part of a tremendous cover-up by worldwide governments who don't want you to know about what may be killing you or your loved ones. The worldwide death toll attributable to the fallout from nuclear production and testing by all Cold War powers, including the United States, by one expert's estimate, could be in the hundreds of millions. Read more.
A QUOTE TO PONDER:
"...the American people have difficulty today in trusting the statements of nuclear officials on radiation hazards. In the aftermath of the Three Mile Island episode, for example, people are reluctant to accept at face value the reassuring statements about the disappearance of the danger. One wonders whether those statements are more a reflection of public relations strategy than of the need to provide a scientifically accurate assessment of the present situation. One fact emerges from the revelations of deceit by government officials about nuclear fallout: No law now protects the American people against lying by their government....no penalties now apply to lying on matters that can cause death or serious harm to human beings. The time has come to draw the line against coverups - especially where the health and safety of the American people are concerned." - Norman Cousins - Daily Herald (Chicago) May 7, 1979
Shame on you...
Salt Lake Tribune (and their columnist Vince Horiuchi) - for criticizing ABC4's editorial against Divine Strake More
Deseret News - for their article by Lee Benson, "Radiation facts get thumbs up" (Feb. 9, 2007), which implied that Utahns worried about Divine Strake are being irrational, and that their fears are unfounded and exaggerated. Truly disappointing. And truly insensitive to the thousands of Utahns who are sick or have died from radiation-related illnesses.
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) - for NOT STOPPING THIS TEST. Hatch once referred to himself as 'The Great Stopper,' offering that if he had any real concerns about the test, he would surely put a stop to it. Currently, Hatch wants DTRA to 'move the test.' Again? He tried that before. And failed. The test came back to Nevada. Hatch: you're a great 'flopper.'
MySpace.com - for this
Gov. Gibbons of Nevada - for this
Dept. of Energy - for the obvious reasons... and also wasting time surfing the internet when you should be reading the 10,000 comments on your Environmental Assessment!!
Who is Terry Wood? He is a national sensation in the fight to stop Divine Strake. View this STUNNING VIDEO about what he did and read how the world is reacting
Listen to an excerpt from a radio commentary about Divine Strake (recorded for Pacifica Radio) by Blase Bonpane, Ph.D., on April 9, 2006 link works!
Divine Strake: a misleading affair
A misleading environmental analysis
The only way to determine if the soils at the Divine Strake GZ (ground-zero) are safe is to test the soil - as part of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Regrettably, the Pentagon agency that is sponsoring Divine Strake has opted not to complete an EIS, saying that it doesn't want to wait the many years that the (EIS) study would take to complete. Instead, the Pentagon released in December 2006 a draft of a revised environmental assessment (REA), which is its third environmental assessment about Divine Strake since April 2006. Like the first assessment, released in April, and the second, a revision released in May 2006 that was the basis for a FONSI that was quickly withdrawn, the most recent draft environmental assessment fails to address real concerns about the safety of the test. Reno attorney Bob Hager, who filed a lawsuit to stop the test, told the Salt Lake Tribune in early February "This is the third time they have falsely assured us there is nothing to be concerned about."
The revised environmental assessment is based on data (some of it dated) from air monitoring, aerial surveys, and ground-level radiological surveys, as well as an analysis of 26 soil samples.
Those 26 samples were taken at depths of five to six inches deep of soils that were exposed to atmospheric fallout and will likely be disturbed by the blast. The area of sampling was a roughly circular area measuring 2,000 feet in diameter (with the GZ at center). The area exceeds a staggering 3 million square feet (Minnesota's "Mall of America" has a gross area of 4.2 million square feet). The sampling lacks in rigor because only 26 samples were taken in this vast area that will be disturbed by the Divine Strake blast and shock wave. The soil sampling was the equivalent of taking one soil test per football field and could easily have missed 'hot spots' of high concentrations of plutonium, americium and other deadly radionuclides. The sampling also does not explore what is below (more than 6") the ground of the site where the Divine Strake blast will occur. This is of concern because the 700 tons of ammonium-nitrate fuel-oil used for 'Divine Strake' will be detonated in a 36-foot deep hole and the blast - equivalent to a 0.6 kiloton TNT explosion - will forcefully eject all of the dirt around the pit.
Again, more extensive soil testing would be part of an EIS, which has been ruled out by the Pentagon (at this point).
The data provided in the REA is a poor substitute for rigorous sampling (surface and subsurface) and analyzing for radioisotopes in the soil at the ground-zero. Moreover, the REA doesn't allude to, nor attempt to historically reconstruct, the fallout from the six atmospheric tests, Smoky, Turk, Shasta, Kepler, Galileo and Coulomb B, that most likely contaminated the ground-zero soils. Finally, the REA references documents that are unavailable on the website of the agency that is responsible for disseminating the environmental assessment (NNSA/NSO).
It is our view that the completion of an Environmental Impact Statement would actually be a waste of taxpayer monies for the singular reason that ample evidence (see our comments) that should have been included in the REA (but was omitted for whatever reason) would be enough to convince any legislator or scientist that conducting Divine Strake at the U16b complex would pose a significant danger to public health.
Misleading public 'hearings'
The Pentagon broke their promise to citizens in Utah and Nevada that it would hold public hearings about Divine Strake. The Pentagon instead held trade show style meetings in mid-January in Nevada and Utah that prohibited any type of public discourse and forced people to stand in lines (15-20 persons deep) to ask questions of one federal official only to be told to stand in another line to ask a different official who referred them back to the original official. The night before the Salt Lake City public information session, federal agencies suddenly announced that the venue had been changed, creating much confusion. During the three-hour session in Salt Lake the following day, Divine Strake opponent Kevin Donahue grabbed the attention of the whole room when he called out: "Who in the room is against Divine Strake?" The crowd's response: a thunderous "We are!" Security guards—one of whom voiced aloud "This is not a public forum"—surrounded Donahue and escorted him out of the building. Donahue feels his constitutional rights were denied, and attendees felt frustrated that they were denied the privileges of the promised public hearings (such as questioning government experts on the record).
Shortly after the conclusion of those meetings, Gov. Huntsman of Utah, in defiance, ordered public meetings held in St. George and Salt Lake City that gave the public an opportunity to speak on record to an audience and a court reporter who transcribed those verbal comments into written ones (Gov. Huntsman later mailed all of the transcribed comments along with his own to the federal agencies. The transcripts of those hearings can be found in the left-hand column under Files Archive.)
Also misleading was the public comment period that the Pentagon commenced on the Friday before the Christmas holiday (Dec. 22, 2006) upon the release of its Revised Environmental Assessment. On January 5, 2007, the public learned that because of an "Inadvertant Omission" of 10 pages from the environmental assessment, the deadline for public comments would be extended from January 24 to February 7, 2007. A point that never was made clear by federal agencies was this: the public comments were supposed to address technical issues with the environmental assessment and unrelated technical comments may not be considered in the Pentagon's final review. The comment period associated with an Environmental Assessment is considered 'informal' compared with that of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). A full EIS would guarantee public hearings, provide more details about the purpose of the test, and require more exhaustive environmental studies from the government to determine the true impact of Divine Strake to public health.
In March 2007, based on public review of its environmental assessment, the Pentagon agency will make a decision to go down one of three paths: either abort the proposed test, go ahead with the test scheduled for mid-2007, or complete a full Environmental Impact Statement. Please visit our action steps page to learn about how you can help stop Divine Strake.
Public hearings: Our right by law? Algirdas M. Leskys, who works as a data analyst with the Department of Air Quality and Environmental Management for Clark County, Nevada, submitted written comments (Here - right-click to download) about the Divine Strake EA on his own behalf, not in his official capacity. If Leskys' analysis (see his comment #4) is correct, then the government is obligated to hold a Title V operating permit - per the Clean Air Act - to conduct Divine Strake. What this means for the public is that the agencies behind Divine Strake actually need to apply for a Title V permit and the public can request (public) hearings during the permitting process. If a Title V permit is indeed granted for Divine Strake by the EPA, then the public has the right to appeal the permit in state or federal courts. The agencies behind Divine Strake are purposely low-balling (see below graph) the emissions of Divine Strake in order to avoid applying for a Clean Air Act permit that would entail public involvement and hearings and cause significant time delays. These obstacles would put the Pentagon's plans for conducting Divine Strake this spring in jeopardy.