Sedan crater explosion
The idea at the time was that nuclear devices could be used for certain peaceful means such as giant excavation projects. And it was true: the detonation displaced about 12 million tons of dirt, and caused a crater 320 feet deep and 1,280 feet across.
"The Atomic Energy Commission established the Plowshare Program as a research and development project to explore the technical and economic feasibility of using nuclear explosives for industrial applications," according to a NNSS fact sheet. "The Plowshare Program, began in 1958 and continued until 1975, operated under the auspice that relative inexpensive energy available from nuclear explosions could possible prove useful for a wide variety of peaceful purposes. Between (1961 and 1973), the United States conducted 27 Plowshare nuclear explosive tests." The thought was that the program could be useful for excavating canals, harbors, highways, or railroad cuts through mountain ranges, as well as open pit mining, and other uses. But the resulting radiation made such sites unusable, and the program was eventually abandoned.
July 7, 2012 4:00 AM PDT
Photo by: Nevada National Security Site
| Caption by: Daniel Terdiman
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