SEPTEMBER 24, 2011


I said I would focus on nukes and natural gas, and here we are at the violent intersection of the two.

So imagine the scene. Your friendly hydrocarbon extraction industry and Atomic Energy Commission in a post-War funk, partnering. Since 1958 nukes were being used to blast canals and dig pits, under the "atoms-for-peace" Plowshare Project. Hey, they think to themselves and each other, we've got all these fancy warheads just lying around ... Why not nuke the bedrock. That would release lots of gas. Holy mutha. Then we can sell that, uh, somewhat contaminated gas back to US citizens [it's often said that we didn't know then what we know now], while ruining the groundwater in the process. What a great idea, Greg! Write it up! Instead of contaminated gas, we'll just call it "enhanced" gas.

Fracking with nukes. Nuke frack. Fruking? The concept, insane on its face, went forward in a big way, starting with a "shot" in the gas fields near Farmington, New Mexico in 1967 ("Gasbuggy"). I do believe Americans have been melting cheese with that nuked gas ever since.

The military-industrial complex (for lack of a better term) set off hundreds of nuclear explosions in the western US in the decades after World War II, primarily in Nevada and New Mexico. But the AEC-gas industry partnership brought nuclear detonations to Colorado, in September 1969. The "Rulison" site is about 15 miles south of I-70 near Rifle. Floyd McDaniel was there:


He and his neighbors were forced from their homes 40 years ago and herded down by the river to an observation post, where they listened to the countdown as it reverberated through the canyons.

When the countdown reached zero, he says, "it was the oddest thing. You could see the ground rolling," cracking chimneys and wells, and sending rocks sliding down mountainsides miles away.

[Steven Paulson, "Colo. regulators review gas drilling at nuke site," Seattle Times, July 15, 2009.]


The experiment produced no "marketable gas," we are told, due to the contamination. It was flared into the atmosphere. The utter failure at Rulison didn't stop the fruking. In fact, Rulison and Gasbuggy were both labeled as successful experiments in public. At this time the industry was laying out plans to nuke the bedrock of several western states into plate shards with thousands of underground nuclear blasts.

Then we got "Rio Blanco," 1973. In that episode, three 33-kiloton warheads were detonated simultaneously, about 7,000 feet underground and about 35 miles northwest of Rifle. The industry vision for the Rio Blanco site alone saw 700 - 900 nuclear explosions in about 300 wells. ["Initial Adverse Effects From Blast  Said 'Minor'," AP/Altus Times-Democrat, November 8, 1971.]

Ah yes, beating our swords into plowshares, and our plowshares into everlasting radioactive contamination. Should have stopped at plowshares, in that case.

Always, I mean always run the other way when you hear someone using 'partner' as a verb.

Of course since fruking all up in there we've spent many millions fake 'cleaning up' the sites, even though the subsurface contamination will be left alone as there is nothing much that can be done to solve it.


"Ground water is the most likely transport medium for the deep contamination." No sh#! mother$#^@! -- I mean, you don't say...

So we can see as a matter of historical record what happens when you leave the gas and oil folks in charge of your state -- they nuke it. I mean, they're nice folks, and we need them, but you don't want them in charge of your air and water.

It doesn't end. Ever since fruking Colorado they've been angling to drill and sell the gas from around the blast sites, and to poke around right on top of them, even though the scope of contamination is unknown. In 2007, the fed anti-regulators provided the industry with a curious study, based only on a mathematical model, showing that new drilling at Rulison would be unlikely to release contamination. There go the feds, just doing their Job.


How much longer will the fruking gas drillers claim to be "clean" and "green?" Regular fracking is bad enough:

Abrahm Lustgarten, "Natural Gas Drilling Produces Radioactive Wastwater," Scientific American, November 9, 2009.

Ian Urbina, "Regulation Lax as Gas Wells' Tainted Water Hits Rivers," New York Times, February 26, 2011.