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Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
June 5, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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June 5, 1997

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7,6 Thursday, June 5, 1997 Pahrmnp Valley Gazette NTS readies itself for experiments Continued from front page simply go back to full-out testing," MacDougall said. "We are required to maintain a stockpile and the experiments are de- ' signed to answer our own questions in maintaining readiness. If, God forbid, we need to use those weapons, they will be avail- able." In 1995, President Clinton made a statement regarding his S NEW S $ Discount Shoe Store Bloomingdeals Now offering a complete line of new quality discount -- shoes -. Come see us at our new location..421 S, Frontage Rd, to Dos/no's Pizza We have men's,women's and children's work, dress and casual shoes in all sizes and styles Hours- Mort - Sat 9a.m. - 7p.m. Sun. - I l-a.m.-4p.m. 751-3436 position on subcritical experiments. "To meet the challenge of ensuring confidence in the safety and reliability of our stockpile, I have concluded that the contin- ued vitality of all three DOE nuclear weapon laboratories will be essential," said Clinton. "In accordance with this conclusion I have directed the DOE to maintain nuclear weapons responsibil- ity and capabilities adequate to support the science-based stock- pile stewardship program." These experiments will involve chemical high explosives that will generate high pressures that will be applied to nuclear weapons materials, such as plutonium. The amounts and design of the explosions are to be such that no actual nuclear explosion will take place. The purpose of the experiments is to gather scientific data on the behavior of nuclear weapon materials by the use of complex, high speed measurement instruments. "NTS has become the scene of scientific experimentation rather than nuclear testing," said Robin Staffin, deputy assistant secretary, research and development, office of Defense pro- grams, Department of Energy. St,n explained that though it appears to be unlikely, the test site has to maintain suberitical experiments to have the ability to return to nuclear testing should it be necessary. The immediate goal is to build a more reliable database for experiments. "We are doing what we need to do for national security and to protect allies to the U.S.," said Staffin. "We explore technol- ogy that we have available to meet those needs. We maintain that there is still a lot left that we do not understand about nuclear weapons." There are two separate laboratories conducting subcrifical experiments at the present time, Los Alamos National Labora- tory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Both of these institutions are conducting experiments in an underground facility called U1A. The facility lies 962 feet below the earth's surface and is accessible only by a mine shaft. The underground complex is a series of tunnels and rooms that serve as detonation and recording areas. In all, there is roughly 2,000 feet of tunnels and chambers that the labs use in their experiments. The tunnels arc supported by thousands of feet of wire, rock bolts, steel braces and wood supports. Los Alamos' experiment is called "Rebound," and is sched- uled to be the first of many subcritical experiments conducted in the U1A facility. Rebound is dedicated to obtaining critical equation of state information on a plutonium alloy. Shock waves generated from a small explosion will be used as a compression pn To Benefit The PVHS Golf" Entry lee: 4k50.00 per player c,u. 7e. . .a. - er a.o. Date: Saturday September 6, 1997 Time: Straight Times Starting 8:00 Alq Long Orive tclosest to pin Mens & ladies) 4 P00o. Handicap & NH *, No Handicap Calway Flights Par6-1dotl Buy-In MuJltgans M . 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The use of flying plates of metal that move at a very high vdocity duringthc fin ofdeto- nation are used to record the measurements. The plates have a glass "sensor" that relays light images back to a detection center. These plates are contained in a metal box that is the source of signals and located at the site of the detonation. In the detection center, cameras and lasers record the informa- tion gathered from the detonation. A device called a "visar" sends laser signals similar to that of radar back and forth between the detection room and the zero room. This serves to measure velocity and sound waves of the detonation. The detonation is recorded by a camera system called a Cordin Camera. It records the Rebound experiment with the use of mirrors and quick photography which is later transferred to film, which can be used in the data gathering process. "Holog," Livermore's subcritical experiment, gathers infor- mation in a different way according to Test Director David Conrad. The experiment uses less plutonium and explosives than Rebound and focuses its attention to surface phenomenon stud- ies. "We look at what happens to the front face of detonations," said Conrad. "There is less than 200 grams of plutonium and less than 100 grams of explosives used." Holog is broken into two experiments. In the first, Livermore Labs will attempt to measure the ejecta associated with a point detonated flat-plate geometry. Ejecta is characterized as mass, particle size distribution, and mass veloc- ity distribution for two surface finishes. A large laser beam will produce a holographic image of these ejecta while three velocimetry beams provide surface velocity information. The ejecta will be analyzed using holographic techniques and lasers will measure surface velocity in three Areas. In the second part, optical relativity data is gathered from the shocked plutonium surface at the detonation site. The effects of different surface preparations and coating thickness will be measured. Surface velocity will be measured in two locations and reflectivity in four. 'q'be two packages together have about as much force as a couple of chem'y bombs," said Conrad referring to the projected small sizes of the explosions. The Holog facility is kept remarkably clean and free'of pollutants. Conrad stated that this is necessary for the experiment to take place. A speck of dust can actually explode when struck by a high-powered laser beam causing the optical components to fail or be destroyed. Those associated with the project have done their best to ensure that pollutants do not enter the test area. The ceiling, walls, and floors of the U1A drifts have been sealed with concrete to enhance cleanliness and provide structural support. Air locks help to control the dust and dirt and multiple high-efficiency filters are in place to clean the air. In both experiments, cement plugs are used in the chambers and tunnelways to prevent possible leakage of gasses and radioactivity. The plugs are seed immediately before the detonations take place and the remainder of the experiment is carried out via remote. The subcdtical eperiments have been delayed for about a year now and scientists are looking forward to getting these first two undczway. Holog Project Manager Lee Davies said that Los Alamos and Livermme Labs have plans to coMuct roughly two experiments each per year after the initial projects are conducted. o - The mhere good fr/ends meet Weekmd THE HIGHLANDERS 99#: Breakfast 5 days, 7.11am Weekend 14oz. Porterhouse $7.95 BOz. tlY or T.Bone $5.95 Thursday Tacos 50 "Karaoke Kountn/' Tuesday & Thursday 7pm-11pm