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Planning on writing comments to the NNSA about their Divine Strake Environmental Assessment?

Here is the full-text of our comments written on Jan. 9, 2007 and revised on Feb. 3, 2007, for submission to the NNSA:

The draft revised environmental assessment for the Divine Strake test released by the National Nuclear Security Administration on January 4, 2007, does not allude to, nor does it attempt to reconstruct the concentrations of fallout from, six above-ground nuclear explosions identified by Richard L. Miller - who filed a paper in the lawsuit of Winnemucca Indian Colony, et. al., vs. United States of America et. al. - that could have spread contamination over the proposed ground-zero of Divine Strake.

The Divine Strake ground-zero, located within the U16b complex, is located between four to eight miles west of where the six atmospheric nuclear tests identified by Miller were conducted.  Those tests were conducted between 1955 and 1957 by the Atomic Energy Commission, which was the predecessor organization to the current U.S. Department of Energy. 

Although the Divine Strake GZ is located west of Yucca Flat (where those 1950s tests were conducted), the radioactive plumes from the six texts identified by Miller - Smoky, Turk, Shasta, Kepler, Galileo and Coulomb B - uniquely traveled in a westward direction.   (A map generated by Microsoft Streets & Trips using the coordinates of the six tests and the ground-zero of Divine Strake can be found at http://www.stopdivinestrake.com/divine_strake_map.html  The data of the coordinates of the six tests are based on data from the document titled 'United States Nuclear Tests' DOE/NV-209-REV 15.  The Divine Strake GZ coordinate is based on data from the DOE).

Information gathered from government documents about the trajectories of the fallout clouds from the six tests identified by Miller is described below:

The cloud from Coulomb B, which was detonated on September 6, 1957 with a total yield of 0.3 kilotons, traveled in a westward direction.  This is clearly shown on the close-in radiation contour map generated by the Defense Nuclear Agency, the predecessor agency to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.  (Source: DASA 1251 "Local Fallout from Nuclear Test Detonations." U.S. Army Nuclear Defense Laboratory, Defense Nuclear Agency p. 185.)  Coulomb B was one of several 'safety experiments' that involved the deliberate dispersal of Plutonium-239. 

Shot Galileo was detonated on September 2, 1957 with a total yield of 11 kilotons.  The Atomic Energy Commission's (AEC) press release from the date of the detonation described the immediate fallout as follows: "The cloud top rose to above 37,000 feet and, because of near calm winds at most altitudes it appeared to hover motionless for considerable periods...Cloud tracking aircraft reported 40 minutes after the detonation that the total cloud was being divided by the winds into two major sections. The section above 17,000 feet was moving quite slowly toward the southwest, while the section below 17,000 feet was moving even more slowly toward the northwest. Both sections were being dispersed by the action of winds blowing from widely varying directions. If forecast conditions hold, it is probable that both sections will follow clockwise curving paths, and that any significant fallout will be on the Test Site and adjacent portions of the controlled bombing range."

Shot Kepler was detonated on July 24, 1957 with a total yield of 10 kilotons.   The AEC press release stated: "The main portion of the cloud rose rapidly to 27,000 feet with the upper layers being blown slowly to the east-northeast and the lower layers being blown west-northwest. The lower portion of the cloud formed a "U" shape and is moving slowly toward the northwest."

Shot Smoky was detonated on August 31, 1957, in an area of north Yucca Flat that is ringed to the north and west by mesas.  Smoky's total yield was 44 kilotons.  "The elevation at ground zero was about 1,400 m, and the elevation of the mesas reaches about 2,300 m. The detonation occurred about one-half hour before sunrise...However, as the sun rose, it is plausible that warming of the east- and south-facing slopes of the mesas caused an updraft and, therefore, a northwestly wind at low elevations in the area of the maneuvers..." (Source: National Academies Press, A Review of the Dose Reconstruction Program of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (2003), page 356).

Shot Turk was detonated on March 7, 1957 with a total yield of 43 kilotons.  The Dept. of Defense document DNA6010F titled 'Shots Wasp to Hornet: The First Five Teapot Tests' states that at the time of detonation the surface winds were from the north at 10,000 feet, the northeast at 20,000 feet, the south-southeast at 30,000 feet, and from the west at 45,000 feet. "The main portion of the TURK cloud and subsequent fallout drifted west and north." (p.102)  Page 125 of the document states: "Cloud-tracking at Shot TURK was more complicated than at previous shots.  Upon detonation at 0520 hours on 7 March 1955, the TURK nuclear cloud separated into an uneven mass, forcing the three cloud-trackers to fly different courses...A B-29 from Kirtland AFB followed another portion of the cloud northwest at an altitude of 20,000 to 23,000 feet MSL until it reached Tonopah, Nevada."

Shot Shasta was detonated on August 18, 1957 with a total yield of 17 kilotons.  The Dept. of Defense document DNA 6006F titled 'Shots Diablo to Franklin Prime: The Mid-Series Tests of the Plumbbob Series' states that at the time of detonation the surface winds were from the southwest at 10,000 feet, the southeast at 20,000 feet, and the west at 30,000 feet.  "The SHASTA cloud top rose to 32,000 feet and moved east, while the middle section moved northwest, and the lower section drifted northeast from the point of detonation." (DNA 6006F; pages 121-122) 

Conclusion:

The draft revised environmental assessment for the Divine Strake test fails to take into consideration the full extent of fallout from all historic testing at the Nevada Test Site.  Information about the fallout patterns from the 1950's tests identified by Miller should be highly relevant to and included in the National Nuclear Security Administration's environmental assessments (including the draft REA released on January 4, 2007), however there is no mention of these six tests in any of the EAs.  The fallout concentrations from one or more of those six tests, if they indeed deposited fallout in and around the U16b complex, should render the complex too dangerous for any above-ground testing.   The radioactive cloud from just one of these tests, Shot Coulomb B, drifted directly over the coordinates of the proposed Divine Strake GZ and therefore most likely deposited radionuclides, notably Plutonium 239 (Pu-239), in such high quantities that the blast from Divine Strake would pose a significant danger to public health.   The completion of an Environmental Impact Statement would be a waste of taxpayer monies for the singular reason that ample evidence - such as the information provided in these comments - that should have been included in the EA, but was omitted for whatever reason, would be enough to convince any legislator or scientist that conducting Divine Strake at the U16b complex is a significant danger to public health. 

 


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