January 27, 2023 - On National Day of Remembrance for Downwinders, we should ask ourselves how, under our noses, epidemics of disease, injustice and injury to dignity were for decades wrought on our own citizens and soldiers--are we still perpetuating our nation's blind spot to radiation victims from nuclear testing?
Excerpt from U.S. Sneaks In Vega, Its 28th Subcritical Nuclear Test:
In 1997, beginning with 'Rebound,' the Department of Energy started providing a 48-hour notification prior to each subcritical test to various governments, organizations, and the media. For over a decade, the Energy Department, and later the NNSA, consistently adhered to this policy of prior notifications and also issuing a press release within hours or a day of each test.
In September 2010, for its 24th subcritical nuclear test named 'Bacchus,' the NNSA abandoned its voluntary policy of providing a 48-hour notice and, months later, the agency first began to opt out of issuing a press release following a subcritical test. In fact, in late 2010 and early 2011, the NNSA conducted two subcritical tests, 'Barolo A' and 'Barolo B,' that were not followed up by any confirmatory announcements for months.'
After the NNSA conducted the Barolos-the 25th and 26th subcritical nuclear experiments or SNEs-in late 2010 and early 2011, news of the two SNEs was only first published in June 2011, delivered in tabulated form-without the Barolo name-appearing in an Administration PDF report. In 2022, President Biden's belated 209-day announcement for a 2021 subcritical nuclear test set a new record of SNEs non-transparency.
The U.S. has conducted 32 subcritical nuclear experiments since the end of the Cold War to ensure the stockpile is resilient.
What is a subcritical nuclear test?
Subcritical nuclear tests are nuclear experiments designed to explosively bombard small amounts of weapon-grade plutonium-239.
Carried out by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) periodically in an underground alcove in the State of Nevada, the experiments, also dubbed ‘subcrits,’ do not reach a self-sustaining “critical” fission chain reaction. However, several critical problems remain.
My PDF handout (latest version): 'What are Subcritical Nuclear Tests?'
1997 - present
2 July 1997, Rebound
18 September 1997, Holog
25 March 1998, Stagecoach
26 September 1998, Bagpipe
11 October 1998, Cimarron
9 February 1999, Clarinet
22 March 2000, Thoroughbred
14 February 2002, Vito
7 June 2002, Oboe 9
29 August 2002, Mario
26 September 2002, Rocco
19 September 2003, Piano
25 May 2004, Armando
23 February 2006, Krakatau
30 August 2006, Unicorn
15 September 2010, Bacchus
1 December, 2010, Barolo A
2 February, 2011, Barolo B
Scaled-----5 December, 2012, Pollux
Scaled-----13 December, 2017, Vega
Scaled-----13 February, 2019, Ediza
Scaled-----3 November, 2020, Nightshade A
Scaled-----22 June, 2021, Nightshade B
Scaled------16 September, 2021, Nightshade C
Oboe (1) to Oboe 8 - conducted 1999-2001
Next subcritical test series: Nimble (three shot series planned thru 2026)
Update: On August 16, 2022, the NNSA announced that it completed a large infrastructure construction subproject at the NTS that could help with future subcritical nuclear tests. The NNSA said that the finished installations include 'structures, systems, and components necessary for deployment of the ECSE' [subcritical] program at the NTS. Per a press release, the subproject 'provides Access and Life Safety infrastructure..including a new access drift, a new Refuge Station, and necessary power and ventilation for mining new drifts.' The NNSA press release notes its Complex Enhancements project for U1a - completed ahead of time - 'closes a capability gap in the ability to certify changes to the stockpile.'