WAS DANGEROUS NUCLEAR-WEAPONS TESTING PERFORMED AT AREA 51?
CASE# 3 ‘Project 57’
Once inhaled, plutonium is one of the deadliest substances known to man; one-millionth of a gram in your lungs and it’s goodnight. Unleashed into the environment, it takes 24,000 years to decay by half.
For these reasons, the American government was paranoid that, at the height of the arms race in the late-1950s, a plane transporting atomic material could quite possibly crash on American soil, sparking a catastrophic disaster the likes of which the world had never witnessed. They therefore needed a place where they could secretly test the effects of such a ‘dirty bomb’. It would need to be remote, away from prying eyes, and big enough to accommodate a nuclear blast.
In 1957, the US military earmarked a flat, 41-square-kilometre slab of land a few kilometres northwest of Area 51 as the perfect site to conduct Project 57, naming it Area 13. Handily, the land fell just outside the legal boundaries of the famous Nevada Test Site, allowing Project 57 to fall under the umbrella of a military operation – thus removing it from official Atomic Energy Commission public disclosures.
On April 24 1957, a nuclear warhead was detonated over American soil, simulating the plane crash the government so feared at the time. To test the effects on an urban environment, mock-ups of urban pavements and curbs had been set out in the desert; cars and trucks were placed under trees; animals were caged and ready to face the dirty bomb.
Once the dust from the explosion had settled, measurements showed the plutonium had spread out over 895 acres from Groom Lake – admittedly a long way from the nearest big city, Las Vegas, 134 kilometres northwest. Area 13 was fenced off. Contaminated materials were buried deep underground. Job done.
Or so it seemed. A year later in 1958, Project 57’s director Dr James Shreve wrote a classified report expressing his concerns over potential contamination problems; namely that at some time in the future, plutonium-infected earthworms could be carried by birds and dropped in surrounding areas, tainting the birds and, most crucially, soil and trees.
Radioactivity issues aside, recent years have seen several former Area 51 employees file lawsuits against the US government, alleging they’re victims of brazen environmental crimes such as breathing poisonous smoke from burning hazardous waste, which they claim causes cancer, respiratory disease and strange rashes.
“IN RECENT YEARS, SEVERAL FORMER AREA 51 EMPLOYEES FILED LAWSUITS AGAINST THE US GOVERNMENT”