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Sixteen days before the the April 26, 1986 accident in Unit 4 reactor of the Chernobyl power station in Ukraine, a different kind of containment failure occurred in the U.S.   In both instances, accidental radiation releases into the environment were concealed from the public as long as possible and the truth over how much was released is still a state secret in both countries.

April 10 

One day before Halley's Comet made its closest approach to Earth and five days after the West Berlin disco bombing that killed three persons including U.S. servicemen, a U.S. accident occurred about 1,300 feet below Rainier Mesa, a volcanic, flat-topped mountain on the expansive Department of Energy Nevada Test Site.  A small nuclear device detonated in a horizontal tunnel cavity on April 10, 1986 overwhelmed closure systems and resulted in contamination of a miles-long technologically-enhanced tunnel.  The accident set into motion the legacy of the name of the nuclear test, 'Mighty Oak.'

Mighty Oak was a product of President Ronald Reagan's obsession with the idea of space defense.  Reagan thought that it was necessary - and possible - to construct a defense 'shield' in space that could flawlessly destroy Soviet ICBMs in their boost phase as they strove to destroy America's cities and nuclear silos.  The Pentagon's Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA) was tasked with carrying out overly-ambitious experiments to determine a SDI technology that could both work and meet certain objectives (cost and perfection).  The DNA sponsored several experiments of a nuclear blast-pumped X-ray laser in tunnel structures under the Nevada Test Site.  These tests simulated the radiation-effects of a nuclear blast on a 'target' in space (an orbiting satellite or other space equipment).  

In order to simulate a nuclear 'x-ray gun' in space, test planners came up with the idea of an airless steel pipe.  At one end would be the nuclear device and at the other end would be several 'targets' (i.e., warheads and satellites).  Since radiation of all types diffuse over space, the steel pipe was tapered so that the 'target end' had a diameter of 25 feet.  And since explosions in space don't create a shock wave - because there is no air - huge blast doors would allow the radiation to pass and then milliseconds later slam shut to prevent shock damage and radioactive gases and debris from reaching the 'targets' and beyond the cavity into the tunnel.14  But, as happened in a previous test, 'Misty Rain,' the doors failed and radiation seeped everywhere.10 

The intense pressure and thousand-degree heat caused two blast doors to reopen - 50 or 60 seconds after closing - and fire and debris exploded down the cavity and into the tunnel complex.21  The test chamber and the rest of the tunnel was supposed to be spared from this contamination and inferno but it was all turned into a scene of destruction - a 20-foot section of tunnel went 'missing' and the radioactive inferno stopped at a final 6-foot thick door leading to the outside air - had that failed, it would have caused a major release into Nevada's air of radioactivity weeks before the radioactive gaff at Chernobyl.

The tunnel complex - the 'T-Tunnel' -  was now 'off-limits.'  Dangerous levels of airborne radiation throughout the tunnel surpassed federal guidelines for workers exposure and test site workers would need to wait for radiation levels to subside.  These levels would subside naturally and as experts slowly discharged the radiation into the outside air.  That would take a while - several weeks or months. 

But these were the 'Star War' years and the federal government cared more about their 'experimental equipment' and its data than the environmental costs of 'dumping' radioactive air.19  Actually, there were several 'Star Wars' tests in the 1980s, like 'Misty Rain' in 1985, that failed and radioactive air was vented from tunnels into the outside air simply to access 'data' and millions of dollars of equipment.15  Some of the greatest radioactive releases in America since 1970 came from these failed Star Wars tests.

As had been the protocol for decades, deliberate releases of radiation at the test site was conducted at the mercy of the winds.  Areas to the north and east - sections of Utah and northern Nevada, once dubbed 'low-use segments of the population' in a memo of the Energy Department's predecessor - were expendable.  When the winds would cooperate, the radiation pent up in underground test tunnels would be sent 'their' way.  But the winds don't always cooperate.  Winds at the test site in some seasons would flow north over the nighttime hours and south during the day.  And sometimes the winds could really howl.  "March through June," at Yucca Flat, which is to the south of Rainier Mesa,"tends to experience the fastest average wind speeds ...with the faster wind speeds occurring at the higher elevations."(DOE EA-1550).  In fact, on average, something like 30% of the time the winds are blowing from the test site to the east or north.  So, purging T-Tunnel would take place, on average, on 'every-other-other' day, when the wind direction was flowing to the north or east.   

April 22 

On April 21, American reporter and talk show host Geraldo Rivera presided over the opening of the newly discovered vault of Al Capone, which, anticlimactically, revealed a more or less treasureless trove.  

No one knew that the next day another mobster's vault opened with something that would take Americans' breath away.  Twelve days after Mighty Oak, on April 22nd, Energy Department employees first started purging the air from the tunnel as the winds blew to the north-northeast.  Mechanized 'gas seal plugs'4  had sequestered the tunnel into three sections and on this day the two sections closest to the tunnel aperture were 'purged' (from 10:00am to 9:30am on the following day).  

The gases easily poured out as air would blow out a balloon; a more accurate analogy is a car tire tube.  The April 10 nuclear explosion spontaneously created radioactive gases compressed at billions of times normal atmospheric pressures - as these gases spread throughout the tunnel, the pressure dropped, but was still intense.  

Radioactive gases like Iodine-131 and Xenon-133, which are heavier than normal air2, shot out of the tunnel like air from a punctured tire.  

April 25

After a two day hiatus, on April 25, the winds again were right and the Energy Department released the third and final seal, allowing almost the entire contents of the tunnel to 'breathe' into Nevada's air.  The tunnel's aperture was opened between 10:30am and 4:00 pm on April 257 and as would be expected the 'wind' coming out of the tunnel on this day contained highest concentrated amounts of contamination, including xenon-133 gas.12   This radioactive gas was detected later that day by EPA radiation equipment arrayed around the Nevada Test Site, some at distances tens of miles away. EPA monitoring stations installed in the town of Hiko, Nevada and at 'Medlin Ranch' had readings of 270 'xenon units' (full day average) and 550 'xenon units,' respectively.13a  

The Medlin Ranch reading was the highest radio-xenon level recorded that month by the EPA, which kept its 'noble gas' monitoring equipment around the test site through May 10.  It was one of the highest such levels recorded in Nevada in over a decade.

April 26

On April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear power station experienced an unprecedented accident and released a tremendous radioactive plume that would disperse radioactive gases like xenon and iodine and dozens of radio-chemicals - similarly found in 'nuclear fallout' - across the world and the United States.  It was, however, a meteorological miracle for someone who wanted to dump radiation into the air.

Wanting their precious data and equipment, the Defense Department was losing patience with the 'conventional' method of waiting for the winds to be right in order to vent.  But something could allow test site managers to promptly get rid of waste without anyone knowing. They could use the cover of the Chernobyl clouds to vent7 continuously, regardless of the winds.  


April 28 to early May

While Chernobyl's radioactive plumes were slowly creeping across the ocean to reach the Americas, from April 28 through May 2 the Energy Department purged several hours each day while the winds were blowing towards the 'low-use' people.6  

Daily venting continued through and beyond May 2nd but starting on this day record-keeping - as evidenced in a final report completed in 1986 by the EPA for the DOE - deteriorated.  This was especially so between May 5 to May 9 - the EPA didn't specify the wind direction that corresponded with purges, simply calling the five-day cumulative direction as 'variable.'  

Test site workers purged the tunnel every day beyond May 2nd for as few as 4 hours per day and as long as the entire day depending on when 'weather conditions were favorable' (meaning when winds would blow north and east into less populated areas).   

EPA leaves town on May 10

The EPA began detecting radiation increases linked to Chernobyl in the Western United States on May 7th.  The 'first detectable Chernobyl fallout' appeared on May 7th in Denver, Colorado and (per the EPA, also) in towns in Utah and Nevada.  

Then the EPA decided on May 9 that Mighty Oak was all done - all the bad stuff was vented - and packed up their bags.  According to their official report, EPA's 'special sampling was discontinued after May 9' - this means they removed all 'special noble gas' monitoring equipment around the Nevada Test Site that was specifically there to monitor Mighty Oak effluent.  The day the EPA was disconnecting and packing up their stuff, a maximum reading on May 10th of 4.6 'iodine units' in air was detected at Twin Springs Ranch, Nevada - the airborne radiation was believed by the EPA to have 'originated from the reactor accident in the USSR.'.5  

In fact the EPA stated that xenon-133 was no longer detectable (in off-site areas) after May 5th and assumed that the iodine-131 detected in Nevada towns beginning on May 8 were from Chernobyl.   There was no iodine-131 detected in the southwest before May 8 by the EPA.  

Soviet retaliation

Mighty Oak was the ninth nuclear weapons test announced by the U.S. since August 6, 1985, when the Soviet Union declared a moratorium on nuclear testing.  Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev declared a six-month unilateral moratorium and extended it until March 31, 1986.  He offered to continue the moratorium if the United States refrained from its tests.  Although the Soviet Union had completed a round of tests prior to the moratorium, their offer seemed genuine; August 6, 1985 was the 40th anniversary of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima.  Moreover, U.S. congressional and peace leaders pressured the U.S. government to follow suit and take the offer.

The reaction in the Soviet Union to Mighty Oak was fierce: the Soviet Tass news agency had choice words, calling the test  a "dangerous destabilizing step"...."as if [the U.S.] had decided to ride for a fall on the brink of a nuclear precipice"..."another demonstration of the Reagan administration's criminal contempt for the calls of U.S. and world opinion to join the Soviet Union's moratorium on all nuclear explosions."  A commentator on Moscow's nightly television news said, "The further carrying out of nuclear tests by the United States will force the Soviet Union to renew its tests.  We regret this, but we shall have to do it, as we cannot waive our own security and the security of our allies."

Despite the fact the U.S. had conducted nine nuclear tests since Gorbachev's moratorium announcement, the USSR did not break the moratorium even after the March 31 deadline.  The Energy Department conducted its tenth nuclear test under that moratorium on April 20, 'Mogollon,' and the eleventh on April 22, 'Jefferson.'

Gorbachev probably couldn't break the moratorium with a nuclear test - they were reeling from the aftermath of Chernobyl, an accident attributable to carelessness and poor management - power plant staff 'forgot' to switch back on the emergency cooling system following a brief experiment.  

The first nuclear test by the USSR since the announced moratorium occurred on February 26, 1987.  This was some six months after all of that angry rhetoric.  So what is the full story?  [Disclaimer: this is all speculation and we apologize if victims of Chernobyl view callousness in this conspiracy theory.  It is not intended.]  We don't know the full story, but let's look back to the history of the Cold War and recall that Soviets reacted aggressively when the West rebuffed their offers to ban nuclear tests.  The verbal moratorium between the Soviets and the U.S. - that banned nuclear testing - between 1958 and 1961 was a delicate peace and to the Soviets carried much promise; a perpetual testing ban would have great potential for economic recovery for the Soviet Union if vast sums of monies used for testing were no longer needed.  But when another Western power, France, didn't think it was bound to the verbal moratorium and conducted two above-ground nuclear tests in 1960 and 1961, the Soviets easily broke the moratorium, and with a vengeance: the Soviet's 1961 and 1962 open-air nuclear tests included the largest superbomb ever detonated - 3,000 times the Hiroshima bomb - and testing during that timeframe resulted in stratospheric fallout of strontium-90 that was equal to all of the nuclear testing before or after - even through the present.  The strontium-90 from the stratospheric residues caused a tremendous health crisis in America11 and other nations downwind.  The Soviets knew what they were doing; they had Andrei Sakharov and other radiobiological experts on hand to assess the damage from their acts.  They knew that because of our milk-consuming culture, more deaths and malignancies would occur in America than in the 'motherland' where their own wheat-addicted comrades would have an easier time with the fallout; milk transfers more of the iodine-131 and strontium-90 to thyroid and bone than wheat.  Americans lose. Soviets win.    

Fast forward to 1986: here comes another Western rebuff of the Soviet's peace offering.  And then what?  A huge radioactive release occurs.  Chernobyl would again destroy the health of many Europeans and Americans, like in the early 1960s following a previous rebuff.

The IAEA's report on the health impacts of Chernobyl came out in the early 1990s, which is the same time that the U.S. White House offered to the Soviets a moratorium - the Russians accepted.  

 

The purge of death 

According to a 2004 report1 venting of T-Tunnel continued on a daily basis through the 19th of May - yet beyond the 9th of May the EPA published no data on the number of hours of purging per day or wind direction.  There is actually no record anywhere of the wind direction or length of purging from T-Tunnel during the second and third weeks of May.  Since Chernobyl fallout started crossing into the U.S. on May 6th, that contaminated air would be indistinguishable from radiation from the purging.

It is interesting to note that the EPA in spring 1986 went on record saying that whenever it rained in the United States in May 1986 there was ' Iodine-131,' a water-soluble thyroid-seeking radionuclide, in it from Chernobyl.   They never mentioned that Iodine-131 from Mighty Oak was in that rain too.  

Why the EPA and DOE is lying 

It is not a subjective statement to say that since day one the Energy Department has been lying about Mighty Oak.  It is fact.  

Following the detonation, on April 10, an Energy Department spokesperson told the Associated Press that the test went off 'without incident.'   The DOE didn't admit publicly that there was an accident with Mighty Oak for nearly four weeks, until a press conference on May 6th.   Tom Clark, the Energy Department manager in Nevada, told newspapers on May 8 that "The highest release recorded in any area was the equivalent to 90 seconds of background radiation" but on the same day, Dave Miller, another spokesman told the Associated Press that the levels released were "comparable to five minutes of average background radiation."  Three days prior Dave Miller told the Wall Street Journal that there were no outside releases of radioactivity.  The confession by the DOE of the radiation leakages came after a reporter noticed a report lying on a desk of an EPA official in Las Vegas. (Peter Dale Scott article).  Even years later, the DOE was still backpedaling, still revising the truth: a 1986 Energy Department8 report notes the maximum levels of xenon-133 detected following Mighty Oak was the EPA's 550 'xenon unit' figure but a 1996 declassified Energy document restates that peak reading to 450 units.   

More difficult to believe is that the EPA lied and put American lives at risk.  The EPA's contention that iodine-131 did not flow in any quantities out of the T-Tunnel was a lie.  The EPA had argued that on-site filtration had removed all or the most significant quantities of iodine-131 gas before leaving the tunnel18 - yet a test site spokesman told the AP on May 15th that the workers "cut through two heavy concrete doors that keep radioactive gases from escaping out the end of the main tunnel. Minor amounts of radiation were recorded at Alamo, 50 miles east of the test area, when some gases were ventilated from the tunnel."  The EPA had already removed their special radiation monitoring array on May 10th and wasn't 'there' to measure what was in that air!  The iodine-131 levels in the tunnel would remained elevated through June.

Unfiltered releases didn't just flow out the 'front door' (as test site workers cut through them).  Radioiodine gases could have flowed up via a vertical shaft that was drilled from the mesa surface to insert radiation and seismic equipment.17 Moreso, in mid-May, it was learned that "while working in one of the tunnels," noted an AP article, two test site workers received 'measurable radiation doses of iodine 131.'16  A test site spokesman even told the San Francisco Chronicle on May 15 ('Nevada Nuclear Test Mishap') that instrumentation in the tunnel in mid-May was registering "about 25 rads per hour" and that re-entry wouldn't be possible for "several weeks."  

And yet the EPA felt justified in removing special monitoring equipment on May 10 and never cited any of the above points in their 1986 'final' report!  Had the EPA 'left town' in June or July, an 'early departure' might have been considered acceptable.  But Iodine-131, a radiological toxin that affects the thyroid gland, would have remained at elevated levels through the end of May and the EPA must have known that workers were trying to access the tunnel (for the equipment) beyond May 10 and radiation would be pouring out of the side of Rainier Mesa into the outside air.  None of it was monitored.

The day after EPA pulled out its special monitors, Boise (Idaho) had the highest airborne radioactivity in the nation, of 2.12 picocuries of beta (radiation) per cubic meter and when 'Chernobyl's' radiation levels in the U.S. subsided at the end of May and June, the highest concentration of iodine-131 in milk was again Boise, with a milk contamination of 71 'iodine units.'13b  (Milk measurements from May 6 to June 30).   

Boise was in the general direction where test site managers 'aimed' their purged air.

The Iodine-131 from Mighty Oak easily could have traveled to Canada and the eastern seaboard, and Europe and even Chernobyl itself!   But because of the extreme dumbing of Americans, the EPA and DOE have gotten away with claiming that Mighty Oak only emitted a puff of xenon gas and that Chernobyl only dumped Iodine-131 in America.  

But the opposite is closer to the truth: Mighty Oak released thousands of curies of Iodine-131 and Chernobyl dumped strontium-90, cesium-137, plutonium-239, cobalt-60, and radioiodines all over North America.20 

The Iodine-131 from Mighty Oak put millions of Americans at risk for thyroid disease and cancer, including the participants of 'Hands Across America,' a chain of 4+ million humans holding hands, formed on May 25, 1986, that stretched from coast to coast to bring attention to the causes of homelessness and hunger.  

Other radioactive gases that poured out of 'Tunnel-T' included krypton-85, xenon-131m, xenon-133, xenon-133m, Argon-37, Argon-39, Carbon-14 and gaseous tritium-compounds.  It would be irresponsible to say these are harmless gases.  They are all radioactive compounds that can soak, seep and incorporate into our bodies' tissues.

So, we ask: where the hell was the EPA?  

How come the CDC hasn't looked into this?

And why did the DOE lie? 

And how could the DOD put 'equipment' and 'data' above human lives?

Apparently, the corporations and governments ain't no better on the other side of the pond.  The Energy Department's novel idea wasn't so novel.  Peter Dale Scott wrote in his article 'The Nevada Radiation Cover-up' (The ThreePenny Review) in 1986 that Dr. Rosalie Bertell noted that "West German radiation from a reactor accident on May 4 was initially attributed to Chernobyl and, that according to the French Green Party, there was a similarly disguised venting at this time from a nuclear reactor mishap at Cap de la Hague in France."   

The real question is: why aren't people in France and Germany and the United States giving a crap about their government and their lives and the state of their nuclear-tipped world?

In the final analysis, in pure and simple terms, Mighty Oak was a coverup that was enabled by the people.  And it will happen again and again and again until we start asking ourselves difficult questions. 

Footnotes

1 According to a document by the ORAU Team NIOSH Dose Reconstruction Project [Technical Basis Document for the Nevada Test Site, 2004], purging continued intermittently through May 19

2 Xenon-133 and iodine-131 have both about the same weight as gases - of around 6 kilograms of weight per cubic meter of air.   

3 1,000 activists marched on the test site's border prior to the detonation of Might Oak; about 10% were arrested including Daniel Ellsberg who was among several who penetrated deep into the test site.  Three activists came within 3 miles of 'Tunnel-T' (or 12t.08, the location of Mighty Oak).  

4 Six days after 'Mighty Oak' Energy Department employees noticed that pressure was accumulating between two of the plugged sections - which might have caused another containment failure -  and opened up the tunnel for a short 15-minute period to equalize the pressures.  

5 The EPA left Nevada on May 10 also saying that that levels of Krypton-85 gas were at normal 'background levels'.  1996 DOE report claims 4.3 curies of Krypton-85 gas was released 

6 Had that last blast door failed, another 'Baneberry' would have occurred and millions of Americans would have been exposed to much more dangerous radiation levels.

7 A ventilation procedure dubbed 'controlled purging,' also known as 'controlled ventilation,' was followed to release airborne radioactivity from the test shaft into the atmosphere.  During the first 17 days after the Mighty Oak test, the DOE proceeded with the venting very timidly.  They only purged for a total of about 25 hours, or roughly 1.5 hours per day, during those 17 days.  

8 'Off-site monitoring for the Mighty Oak nuclear test.' Black, S. C., Smith, A. E., & Costa, C. F. (1986). 

9 'Radiological effluents released from US continental tests 1961 through 1992.' US DOE: Las Vegas, NV. Schoengold, C. R., DeMarre, M. E., & Kirkwood, E. M. (1996). 

10 In 1992 a Nevada environmental organization, Citizen Alert, asserted that faulty, counterfeit bolts used in the Mighty Oak test may have led to the failure of several blast doors. A test site spokesman admitted that the bolts had reduced strength at temperatures greater than 500 degrees.  (It is clear from published reports that temperatures in the alcove exceeded this max heat capacity of the bolts.)  

The DOE actually blamed the Mighty Oak accident on overestimation of rock strength but stopped short of mentioning that the reason the Rainier Mesa rock wasn't stable was because of the weakening effect of years and years of nuclear testing within the geologic structure of the test site. Three hours after 'Midas Myth,' a tunnel test in 1984, the ground on the surface gave way , pulling workers and equipment into the ten meter deep crater; 12 test site workers were injured and one died. 

Another theory is that the Mighty Oak test exceeded its expected yield.  Since 1986, the DOE has only divulged that Mighty Oak's yield was 'under 20 kilotons' but Greenpeace in 1986 estimated the anticipated yield as 1.3 kilotons.  The test likely was higher than 1.3 kilotons. 

The actual reason for the Mighty Oak's failure lies in the final investigative report, which is still classified.   The DOE, however, has admitted that it may never know the real reason.

11 Although public health authorities in the U.S. would blame the 1990s health crisis on tobacco smoke (first-hand and second-hand), they knew what was causing mass-disease.  In a 2004 interview on Vancouver Cooperative Radio10, Leuren Moret, a former Energy Department employee of two of its weapons labs, told her host, Don Nordin: "They absolutely know everything about the impact on the environment and on human health of what they are doing, and when I worked at Livermore from 1989 to �91, [before] I finally walked out one day and became a whistleblower, I watched teams of radiation experts leaving that lab monthly, weekly, yearly travelling to radioactive contaminated sites all over the world, taking collections of plant materials and living materials like the fish out of the rivers or the lagoons. [They also studied] the human guinea pigs, people at Chernobyl, at the Pacific Islands where nuclear weapons were tested and even Americans [in the] the nuclear weapons program and the nuclear power plant program....They know everything... These people have developed weapons of mass destruction knowing full well what the health and environmental effects are, and they have spent tremendous amounts of money and effort to hide this from not just the American people, but from the global community. They have constructed a huge and a very connected apparatus of scientists, scientific journals, medical professionals, academic institutions, secret radiation labs, and nuclear weapons laboratories. We have over 550 national laboratories in the United States-I think the number has been reduced maybe to 250, but there were over 3,500 facilities in the United States, which functioned as part of the nuclear weapons complex. There�s no way that they don�t know everything and the international nuclear-I call them the nuclear Mafia-has mostly been controlled by the United States. It�s all to hide the health and environmental effects.'  - 'Monday Brownbagger' (Vancouver Cooperative Radio), February 23, 2004

12 A sort of 'fractionation,' Idealist posits, may have occurred during the first few weeks within the tunnel before ventilating began.  Iodine-131 and Xenon-133 gas settled into alcoves and deeper pockets, while lighter gases (krytpon-85) floated higher.  Lighter noble gases were released first, and then followed by Iodine-131 and similarly heavy radioactive noble gases. 

13a 'xenon units' or 'iodine units' in air refer to picocuries per cubic meter

The radiation equipment at Medlin Ranch, set up by the EPA, wasn't turned on until 3pm that day and ran for just a half-day.

13b 'iodine units' in milk refer to picocuries per Liter of milk

14 Test site workers horizontally burrowed nearly 1,800 feet into the limestone rock and inserted a metallic monstrosity like no other: a vacuum-sealed steel pipe tapering over its 0.3 mile length from a diameter of 25 feet to just 10 inches.  At the narrow end was the 'zero room,' where a nuclear device was tightly fitted into - the pipe extended across several 'test chambers' - the other end of the pipe, which measured 25-feet in diameter, dangled a few missile warheads.  Elsewhere in the air-less pipe were two 'blast doors' and are supposed to protect the tunnel section from blast damage and ultimately radiation.  Beyond the chamber were something like five additional doors to 'protect' the main tunnel.  

15 The need to 'get in the tunnel' also had to do with the fact the federal government had other tests lined up for that tunnel.  Future tests would require lengthy preparation - massive engineering challenges that would take up to 18 months.  Mighty Oak also would slow the momentum of support being built for space defense programs - the Pentagon was relying on demonstrations like Mighty Oak to convince its skeptics. 

16 One worker received 200 millirems and the other 70 millirems.  Decades later, in 2008, the Las Vegas Review-Journal ('Health claim roadblocks end,' 8.14.08) interviewed a test site worker named Fred Dunham who was seven miles east of the tunnel when a controlled release of radioactivity occurred in mid-May.  Dunham blamed dioxin exposures and Mighty Oak for the onset of his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

17 Into 1987, at the cost of about $2.5 million, test site workers would "drill parallel shafts above the tunnels, then mine down into the affected alcoves, lowering probes to determine the extent of radioactivity remaining in the sealed tunnels."  It is unclear when these shafts first penetrated the alcoves and if indeed the 'test chamber' was sealed off - in a delayed reaction - from the rest of the tunnel since the April 10 accident.

In March 1987, the Energy Department went ahead with 'Middle Note' near the site of 'Mighty Oak.'  Crews were still drilling tunnels "to try and vent the radioactivity" from Mighty Oak "but suspended operations to prepare for the latest test" noted one AP article, which quoted a Greenpeace staffer who thought Middle Note was a repeat of the Mighty Oak test.  Greenpeace organizers held a protest at the test site that caused a two day delay of Mighty Oak - the DOE blamed the 2-day delay on 'weather conditions and technical problems.'3

18 The EPA has said that none of the iodine-131 in America's air and milk in 1986 was from Mighty Oak because of the Department of Energy's filtration attempts.  Yet EPA didn't define the types and efficiencies of filters used by the DOE in 1986 nor did they calculate - or attempt to determine - the quantities of iodine-131 in its three states: particulate, inorganic gas and organic gas.8   Had they done this, one could determine how well the filtration practices by the DOE worked.  Filtration will work better on some types of iodine than others.

19 Mighty Oak destroyed $32 million worth of 'normally recoverable and reusable' monitoring equipment.  The cost to taxpayers of Mighty Oak, not including equipment write-offs, was $70 million.  It cost an additional $2.5 million for recovery and mining to get into the tunnel.

20 The official story by the DOE, cited in the Energy Department report9 'DOE/NV-317,'  is that Mighty Oak purging released 36,000 curies of xenon-133 along with 2.4 curies of Iodine-131.   This means - if we took the official story as gospel - that the DOE filtered all but 2.4 curies of the nearly 18,000 curies of Iodine-131 that would have been created and lingered at stable levels for about three months in the tunnel from Mighty Oak.  (18,000 curies of Iodine-131 is the result of a 3 percent fission yield in a 1-2 kiloton nuclear explosion.)  Around 250 Curies of Iodine-131 escaped from the Three Mile Island event in 1979.  

All told, even the most conservative estimate of radioactive emissions for Mighty Oak makes it the greatest unplanned release in 15 years at the test site since 1970.

21 The reason for the accident: the DOE says they don't know, and might never know.  But it wasn't due to the counterfeit bolts, they said.  And it wasn't do to geological weakening from decades of testing, they also say.10

 

 


 

Excerpt from a speech by Dr. Rosalie Bertell in August 1986 to AMARC, an international community radio group, in Vancouver, Canada:

" I'd like to say something else about the difficulty that we're in right now in terms of radiation pollution of North America much of which is just not being talked about at all.

I'd like to reconstruct what happened in late April and early May including both what happened in North America *and* what happened at Chernobyl. On April 10th [1986], the nuclear test called "Mighty Oak" was set off in Nevada. And what they're doing now in Nevada is they're setting the test off in an underground tunnel and they have three sets of doors. These doors are six or seven foot thick. They leave two doors ajar and they close the third one, and at the very first seconds of the blast, they try to let through the radiation and then slam the doors shut so they don't get the blast or the fire. Then they take that radiation that comes off in the beginning of the blast and they're trying to put it into a weapon beam. Anyway whatever happened on April 10th, the two sets of doors that were supposed to close didn't, and they had a raging nuclear fire underground in the tunnel. The last door held. They always lose some of the nuclear material in these blasts. But this time it had filled the whole cavity where it was not supposed to be, so it couldn't just be released as they usually do, slowly. They went out, as usual, after they had this accident, and gave themselves a permit to vent. That makes it legal. So if you ask about it, it's legal venting, it isn't an accident. And they started venting sometime about April 20th. They did a small amount of venting. After that, they must have seen the Chernobyl accident from satellite though they didn't announce it--they waited for Sweden to announce it. 

But on the day after, the 27th, they began venting everything, and they continued to vent for five or six days in Nevada from that test. They didn't admit it either until the 6th of May--if you look back on the press conference it was May 6th that they finally admitted that. Before that they said they were being maligned--that they had not had an accident. Meanwhile another agency of the government, the EPA, started telling the radiation levels in North America, and in Canada it was the radiation protection branch of health and welfare in Ottawa. I don't know how many Canadians are here but maybe you remember the very first announcement of radioactive rain was where? Ottawa. Isn't that interesting? It didn't go to the east coast or the west coast but it came from Chernobyl and it landed in Ottawa. It was really incredible. If you look at the EPA measurements for the states, you'll find the highest measurement for the whole United States was in Salt Lake City--directly downwind of the Nevada Test Site. You'll also find it quite high in Spokane and other places. Now all they measured in Canada and the United States was iodine 131, and the reports are really quite carefully worded. It says "Post-Chernobyl Federal Radiation Measurements." It doesn't say it came from Chernobyl. *Legally* you cannot say that the government said it came from Chernobyl--because they didn't--you just imply it because that's the heading. 

Meanwhile when they had their press conference, the Department of Energy announced that they really only lost one gas and that gas was xenon 133. And nothing else. Now if you know what a nuclear explosion is like, and you think that they just lost one little gas out of between 300 and 400 radionuclides produced in that nuclear blast, then you deserve to be deceived. But let's suppose that was true--that they could do that--that they could only release that one and that all the rest were kept underground. Then you *still* have the problem that they're claiming Chernobyl radioactive iodine all over the United States at very high levels, and there's been no follow-up. I presume you know that in Europe they're now reporting the cesium 137. After you have an accident the first thing's the radioactive iodine but that's gone in about two months. And the next thing is the cesium. Sweden, for example, has forbidden anybody to fish in their 20,000 lakes because of the high levels of cesium in the fish. They're high levels of cesium in berries all over Europe, the blackberries and the raspberries. There's high levels of cesium in apricots and peaches from Greece. There are high levels of cesium in wild mushrooms and in deer, and people are being warned not to eat these things. So *if* indeed it was Chernobyl radiation in North America, and we had the iodine, then why are we not being warned about the cesium. Alright? They can't have it both ways.

Somehow or other there's something pretty fishy about the radiation reports for North America. But we need some independent reporting, and we need some independent investigative reporters, and we need some people who are willing to interview bureaucrats and ask them why these kinds of anomalies exist. Because we have a right to know what's in our food. But the problem is just quietly going underground and everybody's just quietly eating radioactive food, and they're going to be quietly getting cancer and quietly having deformed babies. We will quietly undermine the rest of the integrity of the gene pool, and the integrity of the earth. So we're in a very bad situation. One of the lifelines is in the alternative media. One of the things that provides us with an international network to be able to help one another is the alternative media. And part of the infrastructure of hopefully a growing global village that will replace this insanity which is destroying us has got to be the alternative media. "

Mighty Oak EPA report (1986)


Tips for arguing with radiation PR people
When they belittle your claims... by comparing any exposure from their facilities to... You say or ask...
...about your exposure to fallout from nuke plants or weapons testing fallout... ....background radiation... 'Background radiation doesn't mean it is harmless - it probably does cause a small portion of cancers.  If you are adding to the background radiation, you are adding to someone's risk.'

'How many more defective children will be born and how many cancers will be induced by this increase in 'background radiation'?

...about your exposure to fallout from nuke plants or weapons testing fallout... ...flying in a airplane... 'That is not a realistic comparison.  Radionuclides in fallout are incorporated into our bodies (tissue, bones).  Most of the radiation from cosmic rays is external.'
...about your exposure to fallout from nuke plants or weapons testing fallout... ... a chest x-ray... 'You don't ingest or inhale the radiation source from x-rays.  An x-ray lasts for a millisecond.  Fallout lingers in body tissue and bones for decades .'
...about your exposure to fallout from nuke plants or weapons testing fallout... ...eating a banana 'Potassium-40 is a naturally occurring radioisotope that has been present in foods and the environment on Earth for billions of years.  Potassium 40, which delivers an annual internal dose to the soft tissue of  20 millirem and 5 millirem to the bone, is not as hazardous as many forms of anthropogenic radiation for two reasons.  Unlike many types of fission products, its environmental levels rarely peak and it doesn't 'pool' in vital organs.  One liter of milk in Berkeley, Calif., purchased in late March 2011 had an iodine-131 concentration that would deliver a radiation dose to the thyroid of an infant of 7.54 millirems.  A yearly dose from consumption of 50 liters of this milk would equal 377 millirems to the thyroid gland.'
...about your exposure to fallout from nuke plants or weapons testing fallout... ...standing next to a smoke alarm.... 'You don't ingest or inhale the Americium-241 from smoke alarms.  You're talking about the small gamma component of Am-241.  That's external exposure.'

Idealist's public document archives: 1. Documents 2. Documents


'The greatest irony of our atmospheric nuclear testing program is that the only victims of U.S. nuclear arms since World War II have been our own people.' 
- Forgotten Guinea Pigs Report, 1980

 

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