Seriously, if Love Canal wouldn’t take it then there are Super Fund sites like Rocky Flats Weapons Factory that would. We could put up honorary members like the originators and manufacturers of Agent Orange, Whose ever idea leaded gasoline was, maybe the inventor and manufacturers of Mustard Gas. But the people who proposed and actually carried out atomic fracking must go near the top of the list.
How about setting off a nuclear bomb to mine Pa.’s natural gas? It was considered
Fifty years ago Pennsylvania officials were presented a plan to detonate a nuclear device below north-central Pennsylvania. While the project never got past the planning stages it was part of a larger plan to use nuclear bombs in natural gas extraction. (Pennsylvania State Archives)
Editor’s note: This story has been update to fix broken art on this article.
HARRISBURG — In May 1966, Columbia Gas and the federal Atomic Energy Commission presented an audacious plan to a representative of the Governor’s Science Advisory Committee: A proposal to detonate a nuclear bomb more powerful than the one dropped on Hiroshima 3,500 feet below north-central Pennsylvania.
“At the present stage, this proposal involves a detonation of a ‘shot’ of perhaps 20,000 tons TNT equivalent at a location on the boundary between Centre and Clinton counties,” wrote Louis Roddis Jr., the governor’s representative in his report.
The goal was to use the nuclear blast to create a chamber that could then be filled with pressurized natural gas. Named Project Ketch, the proposal was an offshoot of another nuclear explosive-powered idea, Project Gasbuggy, which called on increasing natural gas production by detonating nuclear bombs underground to fracture rock deposits — nuclear fracking.
From the get-go, however, Roddis noted there would be challenges to the proposal. Safety considerations, he wrote, fell under three categories: seismic problems, immediate radioactivity problems, and long-term radioactivity problems.
Go there and read. More next week.