This was basically the Soviet version of Operation Plowshare, same idea, same concept, just on a scale that was so much large and more grandiose and obviously even stupider than the American version, just like the good old days of Soviet Glory.
Starting up later then the American program, due to various political attempts to limit nuclear tests, when it started up sometime around 1960, it really went all out.
Like the American project, the Soviets essentially divided their many, MANY, nuclear tests into two broad categories.
- “Employment of Nuclear
Explosive Technologies in the Interests of National Economy” or “Program
- This was the part of Peaceful Nuclear Explosions (PNE) designed for massive-scale construction programs: Canals, water reservoirs and other excavations.
- “Peaceful Nuclear
Explosions for the National Economy” or,
surprise, surprise, “Program Seven”.
- This one was broadly similar to one of the American categories, using nuclear explosions to encourage mineral and gas exploitation, adding in plans about creating underground cavities to store gas.
The first program resulted in 124 tests with 135 nuclear devices, the second 115 explosions, most of them were similar to the American experiments, some 39 of them were used for experiments in using seismic waves to detected deposits of natural gas, 25 were attempts to encourage additional oil and gas production with similar irradiated gas results as the Americans got, the seismic experiments carried on much longer than any of the rest of them.
Some Twenty-two were used in experiments with large underground gas cavities for storage, two more for toxic waste storage, wonderful idea, let’s make toxic waste radioactive, like it wasn’t bad enough already.
Two were used to crush ore in open-pit mines, which sounds fucking nuts to me, detonate essentially open-air nuclear bombs just to crush some fucking rock? Madness as all hell.
Nineteen for various research purposes and a long one for coal mining? Underground? Holy shit, gotta give the old Soviets that one, I would never have even dreamt of using a nuclear bomb to mine out coal, quick, somebody tell President Trump about it, perhaps he’ll blow up West Virginia.
Now, there are nine of the tests that are interesting beyond the terror, some of them, actually did good, they worked as intended and did indeed solve fairly serious problems.
Five explosions you see, were used to stop “natural gas fountains”, that would be out of control gas fields spewing huge amounts of flammable gas straight into the atmosphere, in 1966 a thirty kiloton device were used to stop a gas well that had been blowing since ’63 and they repeated that success a few months later with a larger devices.
To be fair though, using explosives to stop well blowouts is actually the norm, usually you’d just use conventional explosives and not the Bringer of Death, the Destroyer of Worlds herself.
The last four, were used as tests, for building stuff, the Chagan test, which was basically the Sedan test with a much, much cleaner nuclear device, for those of you who do not care to dream beyond your small niche, radioactive waste from nuclear bombs is essentially unexploded material from the fission process, however, Hydrogen bombs don’t use that much fission, they use fusion, which doesn’t leave anywhere near as much radioactive material around.
The trick is to get as much as possible of the fissile material, used in hydrogen bombs as a starter, to well fission, resulting in a “clean bomb”, the Sedan was an older and much more primitive device compared to the Chagan, so the Chagan didn’t contributed seven per cent of the total radiation of the Soviet people, it barely contributed at all.
Neither did the Taiga tests, a series of the three remaining devices tested for canal building, all of these projects were deemed failures even by the Soviets delightful standards, the seismic tests continued until 1988, were Gorbachev’s glasnost put a stop to them.
The lessons learned? Pretty much the same as the American, the only really “good” results were the blowout stopping power of nuclear weapons, but there’s a perfectly decent chance that you can get the same result using conventional high-explosives or thermobaric weapons.
So, nothing gained other than a handful of mildly irradiated lacks in the depths of Mother Russia and hey, who’ll notice another of those.
Now, please enjoy nuclear explosions!