Divine Strake Meeting
Fox 12 News
January 29, 2007
Boise, Idaho — Idaho’s downwinders turned out in force Sunday afternoon to share their concerns with the government agencies responsible for Divine Strake. The explosive experiment slated for the Nevada desert has many worried they are once again in the path of radioactive fallout.
The Divine Strake detonation would occur at the Nevada Test Site, where more than a thousand nuclear tests were conducted during the 1950s and 1960s. Fallout from these tests settled in heavy concentrations across many counties in Idaho, which U.S. Sen. Larry Craig says afflicted numerous families with various forms of cancer.
“There is no question today that Idaho is in the Nevada air shed, and that we received exposure from tests in the 1950s,” said Craig. “If tests are going to continue at that site, I want to make sure there is no opportunity for exposure to Idaho citizens.”
Downwinders are concerned the 10,000-foot plume generated by the explosion would send radioactive fallout into the air. But government experts like National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) spokesperson Kevin Rohrer assured otherwise.
“What our model suggests is that radiation may be picked up and carried a little bit. If you were to eat, sleep, drink, or breathe at the border of the test site you might be able to calculate a dose of about .0005 milligrams,” said Rohrer.
The Snake River Alliance is a nuclear watchdog in Idaho that has followed nuclear issues in the state for 27 years. Their executive director, Jeremy Maxand, thinks the variables of such a test are innumerable.
“What happens to the soil near the explosion, or far away from the explosion, when a bomb of this magnitude goes off? You have to consider things like soil re-suspension and all of the complexities involved, especially when the plume will be 10,000-feet high,” said Maxand.
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) will conduct the test, their spokesman, David Rigby, says the experiment is crucial in finding out how best to blow up underground tunnels and bunkers.
“We can use that data in future conventional weapons and in assessing how much damage we can do to the tunnel complex that is below the explosion site.”
The meeting did not provide an avenue for the public to share comments out loud, and many in attendance, like airline pilot John Post, were unhappy with the experts’ answers.
“My basic intuition as a former military member, and now someone who’s really concerned about the amount of money being spent on such things, being told one thing when it’s obvious to me that it’s something else, is insulting,” said Post.
As part of the National Environmental Protection Act, (NEPA), public comments must be accepted and fully addressed within the government’s final environmental assessment. You can put forth your comments and questions until Feb. 7.