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Kelly Michals, Project Rulison site marker and warning sign, 13 August 2010, Flickr


Project Rulison Nuclear Test Site

Located 8 miles southeast of the town of Parachute (previously “Grand Valley”), approximately 40 miles northeast of Grand Junction and 12 miles southwest of Rifle in Garfield County at a place locally named “Doghead Mountain,” Project Rulison featured a 40-kiloton nuclear “device” detonated 8,400 feet below the ground surface. Part of both the “Operation Mandrel” weapons test series (thus sometimes referred to as “Mandrel Rulison”) and Operation Plowshare, the purpose of this test was to investigate the feasibility of stimulating low permeability natural gas formations by nuclear explosions. On September 10, 1969, the test was conducted by the Atomic Energy Commission, Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory of New Mexico, Austral Oil of Houston, Texas, and the nuclear engineering firm CER Geonuclear Corporation of Las Vegas, Nevada. The detonation produced excellent gas flow but because the gas was radioactive, it could not be sold and was subsequently flared into the atmosphere, ultimately contributing to the background radiation burden.


London, Nell. "Drilling Near the Site of an Underground Nuclear Blast Just Got a Little Easier." Colorado Public Radio. November 6, 2017. Accessed August 1, 2020.

Project Rulison Joint Office of Information, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Austral Oil Company, Inc., U.S. Department of Interior, and CER Geonuclear Corporation. "Project Rulison: A Government-Industry Natural Gas Production Stimulation Experiment Using a Nuclear Explosive." May 1, 1969. Accessed August 1, 2020.

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Legacy Management. "Geospatial Environmental Mapping System: Rulison." Accessed August 1, 2020.

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Legacy Management. "Rulison, Colorado, Site." Energy.gov. Accessed August 1, 2020.

U.S. Department of Energy. "Project Rulison 1969." Video 0800036. ClassicAtomicMovies. March 11, 2011. Accessed August 1, 2020.


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