The National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) announced today (5/26/06) that it is withdrawing its Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the massive Divine Strake high explosive test, originally slated to be conducted at the Nevada Test Site on June 2. The NNSA press release announcing the FONSI withdrawal mentioned no new date for the test, which apparently has been delayed indefinitely.
Divine Strake has sparked widespread opposition in the region, based in part on worries that it could mobilize radioactive materials at the site, which was used to conduct both above ground and underground nuclear explosive tests for four decades. Many also oppose the test as unnecessary and provocative, because government budget and planning documents show that one of its main purposes is to simulate the effects of low-yield nuclear explosions on underground structures.
The NNSA press release fails entirely to mention that Divine Strake would occur at a test range where the United States conducted the vast majority of its nuclear tests– 100 above ground tests and over 800 underground tests:
“This action is being taken to clarify and provide further information regarding background levels of radiation from global fallout in the vicinity of the Divine Strake experiment. Atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons by several countries in the 1950s and 1960s resulted in the dispersion of radioactive fallout throughout the northern hemisphere. The efforts of the Nevada Site Office are focused on explaining, in a means clearly understandable to all, what background radiation from this fallout means with respect to the contemplated DIVINE STRAKE experiment.” NNSA Press Release, “NNSA Withdraws FONSI for Divine Strake Experiment,” May 26, 2006.
For more on Divine Strake, see the previous entries on the topic on this site.
UPDATE: Associated Press story in the Las Vegas Sun on the test postponement and the status of the Divine Strake lawsuit.