Divine Strake Fight Not Over
The Spectrum.com – Southern Utah’s Home Page - Published September, 13th
The staunch opposition that won out over Private Fuel Storage's plight to store high-level nuclear waste in Utah's west desert needs to be as ardent against any future nuclear-type testing at the Nevada Test Site.
Getting caught up in triumph, while well-deserved and worthy of praise, does not mean other battles are abandoned. Putting a stop to the detonation of conventional and nuclear bombs created to destroy deep tunnels where weapons of mass destruction are assumed to be buried is a cause that must maintain continuum.
Divine Strake, the 700-ton ammonium nitrate and fuel oil bomb originally planned for a 35-foot open-air pit dug into a limestone ridge at the Nevada Test Site, is by far extinguished. Though a lawsuit, public outcry with petitions and Nevada and Utah Congressional delegations objected emphatically, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency is pursuing setting the low-yield blast off in mid to late 2007.
Where it will happen does not rule out our arid neighbor approximately 85 miles from Las Vegas because it already possesses monitoring and diagnostic equipment needed to study the explosion. It will be a costly expenditure to duplicate that somewhere else.
Irene Smith, a spokesman from the DTRA, mentioned an alternative location in Mitchell, Ind., where a limestone quarry was home to smaller tests involving 3,000-pound batches of explosives in 2004 and 2005. According to DTRA, that is not going to happen and never intended for it to occur in Indiana.
What is going to happen? That is the looming question that remains unanswered by the Department of Defense. Since it is clearly avoided, vigilance in getting a response is essential to find out where in the process the $23 million test is now.
Utah has won one battle that will keep the Goshute Tribal lands free of radioactive waste storage, but it simply cannot rest on its laurels in its fight to win over an explosion that has yet to prove it will not pose health risks to the local population from toxic materials released and dispersed by a predicted 10,000-foot mushroom cloud.
While discovering ways to root out enemies and weapons hidden in limestone tunnels is understandable, it should not be done by experimentation at the expense of innocent American civilians. Southern Utah has been down that road before and refuses to tread that path again. When the constant threat of nuclear weapons testing is more than temporarily postponed, it will definitely be a victory worth celebrating.
White Sands May Host Bunker-Buster Bomb Test
By Sue Vorenberg, Albuquerque Tribune
Thursday, September 14, 2006
White Sands Missile Range is on a short list of places that the Defense Threat Reduction Agency will consider for new bunker-buster bomb test, said a spokesman for Sen. Pete Domenici, an Albuquerque Republican.
The bomb, dubbed Divine Strake, will have 700 tons of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil equal to about 560 tons of TNT.
A "strake" is a piece of hull planking on a ship.
The goal of the test, planned since 2002, is to predict damage to deep underground facilities.
The blast will happen on ground over a test tunnel so scientists can determine how much underground shock it causes, said Irene Smith, an agency spokeswoman.
The bomb will not use any nuclear components. Any actual weapon developed with data from the test should not be nuclear, said Chris Gallegos, the Domenici spokesman. "They're not even supposed to be studying nuclear bunker-busters," Gallegos said. "This would be a conventional weapon."
Local environmental groups aren't so sure about that, said Greg Mello, executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group, an anti-nuclear weapons group. "This is a test to develop and demonstrate a low-yield, nuclear, Earth-penetrating weapon," Mello said. "This is a weapon the U.S. does not need and it will send a very dangerous signal to the world."
In 2005, Domenici, chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, led a Senate group that removed funding from the 2006 budget for nuclear bunker-buster tests, Gallegos said.
The idea was that agency should focus more on conventional bunker-buster-type weapons, such as this one, Gallegos said.
But Mello is worried that the upcoming test could eventually pave the way for a nuclear bunker-buster. "All they need is for the president to say `make it,' " Mello said.
The experiment was originally slated for the Nevada Test Site earlier this year. In May, the Nevada Site Office and National Nuclear Security Administration delayed the test because of environmental concerns, Smith said.
"That action was based on NNSA/NSO's decision to clarify and provide further information on the impacts, if any, of background radiation on the Divine Strake site," Smith said in an e-mail.
The agency has been investigating the environmental concerns and is still considering conducting the test in Nevada as well as "other possible sites," Smith said. "The earliest the experiment could be conducted would be several months into calendar year 2007," she added.
White Sands hasn't conducted above-ground explosives tests like this one since the early 1990s, when the agency built the Large Blast-Thermal Simulator on the site, said Jim Eckles, a spokesman. The simulator is an underground tunnel that scientists can use to re-create the shock waves and heat of a nuclear blast without radiation, Eckles said.
The biggest test blast at White Sands when it was testing above-ground explosives was in the mid-1980s. It consisted of 4,700 tons of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil - about seven times larger than the Divine Strake test, Eckles said. Ammonium nitrate is readily available as fertilizer. A mixture of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil was used in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, he said.
DTRA has conducted tests at White Sands "for decades," Eckles added.
Mello said he's not overly concerned about ground contamination, but he is concerned about air quality issues that could arise with a new above-ground test in New Mexico. White Sands might not have the proper permits to conduct the test, as regulations might have changed since the 1990s, he added.
"To me, it remains an open question," Mello said.
Smith referred the question to Eckles at White Sands, but Eckles isn't sure about air quality permits either. It is too soon to tell because DTRA hasn't reached a final decision on where and if it will conduct the experiment, he said.
"I doubt if our environmental office would have an answer without seeing proposed details of the test," Eckles said.
UCLA Extension Presents Four Online Courses In Tribal Legal Systems
In cooperation with the UCLA Native Nations Law and Policy Center, this series of courses is designed to support Native educational issues and community concerns. Offered fully online by
UCLA Extension, these courses are available not only to regional Native nations in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the surrounding national and worldwide community who have a professional interest in tribal issues.
Introduction to Tribal Legal Studies focuses on important issues involved in tribal government, court systems and the Indian Rights Act. Instructor Sarah E. Deer, JD, will lead participants through an extensive examination of the process of the incorporation of tribal custom and tradition into the court system and the development of tribal common law and peacemaking courts.
Introduction to Tribal Legal Studies (online) runs September 27 – November 29. Fee: $515.
Other Tribal Legal Systems courses to be offered online include: Violence Against Native Women; Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing in a Tribal Context; and Federal Indian Law and Policy.
For more information, please call Helen Williams at UCLA Extension at 310-825-7729
or email -email@example.com
Or visit www.uclaextension.edu/tribal.
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