|Mississippi Department of Archives and History|
Horace Burge, who lived near the Project Dribble nuclear test site near Baxterville, Mississippi, surveys the damage the blast did to his house in Oct. 1964.
By Andrew W. Griffin
Red Dirt Report, editor
Posted: August 23, 2012
OKLAHOMA CITY – It’s been a few days since our last dispatch but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been working on a few projects.
No, there’s always something cookin’, here at RDR headquarters. Lots of news to report.
Remember the minor-to-moderate earthquakes we were feeling here in Oklahoma late last year? Here's a story we did in the wake of the historic 5.6 quake we had near Sparks. Well, the real cause was never really determined and the seismologists and “earthquake researchers” weren’t all that interested in talking to Red Dirt Report about it.
Seems as if the seismic activity is moving a little further south these days, as we have seen in regards to the breathless reports coming out of Assumption Parish, Louisiana and the big sinkhole there at Bayou Corne.
For a while now, residents were feeling tremors, according to this New Orleans Times-Picayune report, and then suddenly the sinkhole appeared a few weeks ago, along with constant a constant bubbling. It is swallowing up cypress trees and swamp water all at once. Two cleanup workers narrowly escaped, their small boat getting sucked into the sinkhole as it suddenly grew larger. One observer said he glimpsed “a piece of hell” looking at it.
As the sinkhole grows larger, there are concerns that radioactive materials allegedly buried in the area could be released via butane injected into a nearby cavern in a salt dome.
As the Times-Picayune reports: “For more than a half-century, the petrochemical industry has used the huge caverns found in the (salt) domes to store hydrocarbons such as methane, butane and propane, which can be easily injected into the underground caves.”
Some reports blame Texas Brine, based in Houston, as being the source of the problem. The sinkhole is along the edge of the salt dome, rather than on top of it. The hole is about 427 feet deep and the top of the salt dome is 700 feet below the ground. The cavern, reports the T-P is another 2,800 feet below that. The Texas Brine cavern was capped and abandoned last year. That cavern, reports WBRZ, was filled with “naturally-occurring radioactive material.” So far, there is no reported radiation in air or mud samples.
It should be noted that the sinkhole is close to a well containing 1.5 million barrels of liquid butane, a highly volatile liquid that turns into a highly flammable vapor upon release. A breach of that well, he said, could be catastrophic, as noted by Assumption Parish Sheriff Mike Waguespack.
Cleanup efforts have been suspended while emergency management officials get a sense of where this situation is headed.
What lots of people may not recall is that in 1964, near Baxterville, Mississippi, the U.S. government went forward with “Project Dribble.” This was to research how foreign nations could possibly conceal a nuclear test underground. This was not long after the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty between the United States, the Soviet Union and Great Britain and in the midst of the Cold War and concerns about nuclear war.
The idea was to detonate a nuclear bomb in the Tatum Salt Dome in Lamar County, not far from Hattiesburg. The October 1964 blast was code-named “Project Salmon” and the follow-up blast in December 1966 was code-named “Project Sterling.”
As reported at the Mississippi History Now website: So in 1964 officials of the Atomic Energy Commission came to Mississippi and began preparing the Tatum Salt Dome site for Project Salmon. A hundred Lamar County residents found work at the site, primarily driving trucks and heavy equipment, or providing food for the project employees. The nuclear test was scheduled for September 22, 1964, but the wind direction was not right until October 22. On that date about 400 residents were evacuated from the area, and were paid $10 per adult and $5 per child for their inconvenience. The zone from which citizens were evacuated stretched five miles downwind of ground zero, and about half that distance in directions that were not downwind of the test.”
Project Salmon was to detonate the nuclear bomb at 2,700 feet below the surface in the salt dome. Project Sterling, two years later, was to detonate a smaller bomb in the cavity left by Project Salmon, which was to deliver a blast the equivalent of 5,000 tons of TNT. This would be the only nuclear bomb tests done east of the Mississippi.
But as was often the case with these nuclear bomb tests, it was bigger than expected. The blast was felt for miles. The editor of the Hattiesburg American said he felt the newspaper building sway for 3 minutes. Homes were heavily damaged and residents were adversely affected, although felt helpless to do anything about what the Atomic Energy Commission was doing to their homes. Reports at the time noted that residents did not want nuclear testing done in their backyards, but the very same newspaper affected by the blast, the Hattiesburg American, featured an editorial defending such tests because “they were necessary for the future security of the United States.” This was not unlike the Americans coming to the Marshall Islanders and telling them that blowing their islands to kingdom come with hydrogen bombs was “for the good of mankind.” And we know how that turned out.
Project Sterling, the Mississippi History Now website noted, was far smaller, only delivering a blast equivalent to 350 tons of TNT. Ultimately the test revealed that foreign nations could effectively hide underground nuclear tests by using methods seen with the Project Dribble blasts.
Six years later, in 1972, the Tatum Salt Dome nuke test site was revealed to have been contaminated. The buildings and other debris were bulldozed and sent to the Nevada Test Site, where a lot of radioactive material is stored.
Radioactive soil, rock and water would be injected back into the blast cavity and “radioactive liquids were injected into Aquifer Number 5,’ a vein of salty water located about 2,500 feet underground.” A large stone monument was placed at the site by the US Government in an effort to warn future people not to dig or drill in the vicinity of the test site.
The Tatum Salt Dome, near Hattiesburg, Miss. is only 135 miles from the growing sinkhole in Assumption Parish, La. These salt domes, not far from the Gulf of Mexico, are a part of the dried salt left by the ancient sea that once covered the region during the Mesozoic Era.
But back to the current issue. As we have previously noted, the work of blogger/YouTube activist Dutchsinse is important in that he has threaded together a number of clues that point to a major seismic event in our future due to pressure on the ancient North American “craton.” This “pressure” is seen in the form of earthquakes in unexpected places, mystery booms (which we have reported on as well) and mystery plumes, as caught on satellite images. What is happening at Bayou Corne is part of a bigger problem. Expect to see more of this in the future.
Copyright 2012 Red Dirt Report
|Andrew W. Griffin / WBRZ|
A screenshot of the news story at WBRZ on the growing sinkhole in Assumption Parish, La. Some are concerned at radiation.