Throwback Thursday: the Government Used Subterranean Nukes to Dig for Natural Gas

by Rachel Baker on October 16, 2014

So…this happened…forty-five years ago, the government detonated a 40-kiloton nuclear device in Colorado, two miles below the surface.

thanks, Vice, for this piece of Fhat the Wuck news!

Forty-Five Years Ago, the Government Used Subterranean Nukes to Dig for Natural Gas.

On the afternoon of September 10, 1969, Chester McQueary laid his belly onto the dirt of rural Rulison, Colorado. A few seconds later, a nuclear bomb two and a half times the size of the one that dropped on Hiroshima exploded less than two miles below him.

As a 33-year-old anti-nuke hippie, McQueary was protesting the blast, an experimental operation attempting to retrieve natural gas from deep below the earth. A five-mile quarantine zone had been set up around the site with the understanding that the blast would not go off if humans remained within the boundary. But the project had experienced repeated delays already, and despite McQueary and his crew setting off smoke flares to announce their presence, the 40-kiloton nuclear device was, in fact, detonated.

The blast was one of several projects carried out under Operation Plowshare, a postwar plan to use nuclear explosions for peacetime purposes. Plowshare’s name comes from the Bible—Isaiah 2:5, to be precise: “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to Become a Patron or to follow on Twitter.

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