Project Rio Blanco Nuclear Test Site
Approximately 52 miles north-northeast of Grand Junction within open grazing and recreation lands outside of Rifle, Colorado, the 1973 Project Rio Blanco test (the third and final experiment for the Plowshare project
) used three 33-kiloton nuclear devices placed vertically at varying depths (5,838, 6,230, and 6,686 feet) beneath the surface. All three detonations occurred simultaneously to construct what could be described as an earthen alchemical retort deep within the shale formation that bomb designers hoped would act as a natural “chimney” for the heating, pooling, and collecting of “stimulated gas,” which failed to occur; the three chimney basins remained three independent chambers. The test was conducted by Lawrence Livermore National Nuclear Laboratory and the Atomic Energy Commission in partnership with CER Geo-nuclear Corporation and Continental Oil Company (Conoco). The AEC began decommissioning the site in 1975.
CER Geonuclear. "Project Rio Blanco Final Report Detonation Related Activities.
" June 30, 1975. Accessed August 1, 2020.
U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Legacy Management.
"FUSRAP Considered Sites: Project Rio Blanco (CO.0-09).
. December 16, 2015. Accessed August 1, 2020.
U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Legacy Management. "Geospatial Environmental Mapping System: Rio Blanco.
" Accessed August 1, 2020.
U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Legacy Management. "Rio Blanco, Colorado, Site.
Accessed June 3, 2020.
U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Legacy Management. "Rio Blanco, Colorado, Site
" Fact Sheet. April 2020. Accessed August 1, 2020.
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