Friday, July 11, 2008
Nuclear Weapons Newsreel - Atomic Bomb Testing In Nevada
The Nevada Test Site is a United States Department of Energy reservation located in Nye County, Nevada, about 65 miles (105 km) northwest of the City of Las Vegas, near 37°07′N, 116°03′W. Formerly known as the Nevada Proving Ground, the site, established on January 11, 1951 for 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.
Between 1951 and 1992, there were a total of 928 announced nuclear tests at Nevada Test Site. Of those, 828 were underground; seismic data have indicated there may have been many unannounced underground tests as well. The site is covered with subsidence craters from the testing. The Nevada Test Site was the primary testing location of American nuclear devices; 129 tests were conducted elsewhere (many at the Pacific Proving Grounds in the Marshall Islands).
During the 1950s, the mushroom cloud from 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.
On July 17, 1962 the test shot "Little Feller I" of Operation Sunbeam became 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 Storax, a 104 kiloton shot for the Operation Plowshare which 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 Experience and Corbin Harney through 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