Tag Archives: nuclear

The utter delight of the Windscale pile is today’s miserable failure

Let me paint you a lovely picture, not one with pretty clouds and lovely bushes, not one with a romantic and silly national pride imagery, not one of haystacks viewed through the impressions of the artist, the picture I paint is one of the last gasps of imperialism of a dying empire and the early whispers of the Cold War.

It’s a picture of unrelenting stubbornness and sheer bleeding national pride, a picture propelled into being by the American cutting off their British allies from that sweet pipeline of nuclear mysteries, a picture of rapid and unrelenting development of plutonium manufacturing capabilities, barreling through all opposition, all logic and all problems.

This is what INSANITY looks like!

In 1949 the American closed the door completely and totally on all nuclear cooperation, for some awful nationalistic nonsense reason, or possibly because the UK was full of Soviet infiltrators and their entire administration was leaking like a fucking sieve.

Either way, this meant that the British had to go and build their very own plutonium manufacturing nuclear pile, without all the experimentation the Americans had done in their own nuclear madness, the British only knew a few bits and pieces and for some reason decided to go with an air-cooled Nuclear Reactor.

I’ll give you a few seconds to get that one through you thick old sculls, a Nuclear Reactor with the same cooling system as a standard laptop, the difference being a simply matter of scale, now I’m no nuclear physicist, but this doesn’t seem that particular safe, letting open free air just flow past your active fissile core of radioactive delight.

The reason for this apparent madness, was obvious one of convenience and speed, they British Empire needed it’s precious nukes at any cost necessary, sanity be damned, unfortunate that this probably resulted in the release of small amounts of radioactive material over the years.

Then there was the location, the British government in its usual way of utter madness, went with a location right next to a failing vacation spot alongside the coast, in an area whose agricultural sector was dedicated to the dairy production, milk being especially susceptible to Iodine pollution, Iodine-131 being something of a villainous isotope, that will be important very, very soon.

Basically, this whole Air-cooled monstrosity was designed to Enrich Uranium from the harmless variations into for example, mother Plutonium, this is basically done inside the reactor, through manipulation of the neutron exposure.

Just watch this, just remove steam and electricity with AIR AND PLUTONIUM,

This pile, caught on fire and that’s why the Windscale Fire is a a Level Five on the International Nuclear Event Scale, there’s just seven levels in total. Around 200 people died because of the fire, a fire caused by the damn thing being basically a giant pile of Uranium, graphite and a bit of boron, about as safe as Chemical factory in Texas, cooled by fucking air.

Still, the British got their nuclear bomb and a 100 billion £ sterling cleanup of what is now called Sellafield, hey, jobs for ten thousand people, and it’s not like anyone wants to live along the English coastline anyways.

Camp Century, Nuclear Powered ICE BASE!

Camp Century was yet another insane nuclear powered idea of the 1950’s US, “hey, let’s built a base under the ice of Greenland, so we can spy on the Soviets!”.

Awful idea in concept, really awful once they actually got started, sure, you can build a base inside of the ice sheet, that part worked flawlessly, it’s basically just a giant fucking igloo, nothing to spectacular there, just a matter of scale.

However, the heat and the power, now normally in Polar conditions, those would be provided by the magic of diesel generators, small, flexible and very reliable, they’ve been powering polar bases for just about a century by now, however, again, this is a REALLY big base.

Estimates from the US Army, showed that it would take a full MILLION barrels of diesel a year to keep Camp Century online, which even the US Army found a wee bit impractical.

So they asked the AEC (Atomic Energy Comission) to design and build a small, ultra simple, boiling water only, reliable and so foolproof even a US Army Private could operate Nuclear Reactor.

Which they did and then installed it in a giant underice base in the middle of the Greenlandic ice-sheet, without really asking the Danish Government, let alone the native Greenlanders, for permission.

Now all of this might have been forgivable, if better radars had rendered the spy part of the base utterly redundant by the time it was actually built.

Add the fact that the ice sheet is a basically a massive glacier, which moves and warps the tunnels, it didn’t take that many years until even the US Army realized just how stupid the whole concept was.

They buried a whole bunch of: Chemical waste (nasty shit) and radioactive waste (really nasty shit) and biological waste ( actual shit) and just left it there forever.

Until Global Climate changed started causing the ice-sheet to melt. That’s going to be fun to explain to the next generations: “Why is that fucking glacier bleeding radioactive literal human waste?”, “It was the fifties kid, what did you expect?”.

Camp Century failed in it’s primary objectives thoroughly and utterly, however, again and again, an unexpected benefit happened, ICE CORES, the scientist bored out an absolutely staggering amount of ice cores, giving us nice meteorological record stretching back millennia.

Nuclear Explosions for the National Economy was the People’s Victory against the Bourgeois Capitalist and not at all Today’s Failure

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 Six”.
    • 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.

This is the Chagan shot, lovely isn’t it? Didn’t pollute nearly as much as the Sedan test

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.

Lovely lake right? WRONG! Made by a fucking nuke!

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!

Project Plowshare is today’s tremendously dangerous failure

Project Plowshare was the United States Atomic Energy Commission’s forlorn attempt to somehow develop civilian uses for nuclear weapons, the idea being that activities and operations the would require significant amount of explosives, could use nuclear devices instead of enormous amount of TNT.

It also developed into, essentially, early experiments with fracking, just instead of using water pressure to fuck around with the geology of an area, they used smaller nuclear bombs, ranging from 29 kilotons to 43 kilotons.

Now the “civilian” uses of nuclear explosions were concentrated into two broad categories:

  1. Using the explosions to essentially eliminate large formations for specific purposes.
    1. Project Carryall from 63 suggested using TWENTY-TWO nuclear devices to outright blow a canyon out of a mountain range, so two of the partners, California Division of Highways and the Santa Fe Railway, could build a motorway and railroad.
    1. Project Chariot: LET’S BLOW UP ALASKA.
  2. Various fracking experiments primarily aimed towards encouraging natural gas fields.

Now, fortunately, none of the first ever get anywhere, which the people of California and Alaska are probably very happy about, seeing as Californians don’t have to wear protective suits and gieger counters when driving along Interstate 40, nor do Alaskan have even more radioactive shit in their food.

However, the fracking experiment resulted in 27 test explosions, of whom, three were practical tests, actual detonation near gas fields, to observe he results.

I do enjoy the irony of “gnomes” being underground creatures.

Now, almost all of the experimental explosions were done at the Nevada test site, except the first one, Gnome, done near Carlsbad, New Mexico, close to several oil and gas fields, and right inside a salt field.

The explosion was actually a remarkable success, six months later a team drilled their way into the underground cavity created and found that the radiation was only five milliroentgen, nothing special, temperatures inside the cavity was around 60 degrees Celsius, again, nothing spectacularly dangerous.

Yeah, let’s dig into a cavity created by a nuclear explosion deep underground, what could go wrong?

So they plowed on, the Sedan test was next, this was a test of Option One, using nukes for large-scale construction, 105 kilotons, caused an event of the Richter scale of 4.75, displaced eleven million tons of earth and created a crater 100 meters deep and 360 meters in diameter, it’s also the source of seven per cent of all the radiation Americans have gotten as part of US nuclear tests, so well done there.


A side effect here, is the fact that the crater left behind, helped with developing new theories on how impact craters from meteor happened.

Hey, mildly radioactive tourist attraction is always cool, seeing as the wind gave Mississippi most of the radiation anyways.

Now, three fracking detonations were conducted too, let’s not forget them, they were Gasbuggy, Rulison and Rio Blanco 1-3 and all three had something utterly not surprising in common:

Radioactive gas, which someone figured that Californians might not enjoy radiation from their gas ovens and furnaces.

None of the gas from any of the fields were ever used for commercial purposes, only industrial, and the entire program was quietly defunded and stopped.

The lesson learned? Nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons, they are designed for the sole purpose of destruction, the radiation they carry with the massive destructive potential, render them utterly unsuitable for any other real purposes.

And if you think the Americans just stopped the quickly? Then join me tomorrow, as we discuss the Nuclear Explosions for the National Economy program of the Soviet Union, the red Version of Project Plowshares and I’ll illuminate your staggeringly misguided desire for more explosions.