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Stairway to Divine Strake

By       Message Andrew Kishner       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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On Thursday, a U.S. government lawyer speaking on behalf of a Pentagon agency sponsoring Divine Strake told a federal judge that she could not promise 60 days' notice before the test would be carried out sometime in mid-2007. Divine Strake, a 700-ton chemical explosives test designed to simulate the blast of a low-yield nuclear weapon on an underground bunker, was originally planned for detonation at the Nevada Test Site in June 2006, however a lawsuit filed by the Western Shoshone and several downwinders forced a postponement of the test until next year. Indigenous and environmental groups fear that the test would eject into the atmosphere radioactive particles that they suspect were deposited from several 1950s above-ground nuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site. These long-lived radioisotopes, including Plutonium-239 and Americium-241, which would contaminate our air, soil, water and food supplies if they became airborne, are likely contaminants in the soils at the Divine Strake ground-zero.

Since plans for Divine Strake were first announced in March 2006, the U.S. government has made a number of confusing statements about the location, purpose, environmental impact and planned date of the test. At one point, the test could have been conducted in Indiana, New Mexico or Nevada, or elsewhere. As for test safety, the government agency overseeing the Nevada Test Site initially issued a green light for the test with their environmental assessment that they later withdrew. Not deviating from their steady course of maintaining mass-confusion, the government lawyer yesterday commented that they were revising that withdrawn environmental assessment, which they erringly referred to as a 'study.' The difference between completing an environmental study and rendering an environmental assessment of Divine Strake can mean a world of difference to downwinders' concerns of the air they breath whether it may or may not induce cancer in 30 years. A study usually refers to an Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, which would be the best (and some would say only) way to ensure the safety of Divine Strake, which appears to be planned for the Nevada Test Site (and not New Mexico or Indiana). The EIS would involve actual sampling of the soil at the ground-zero. However, no evidence has surfaced to indicate that governmental agencies have done any sampling of the ground-zero soils, which the Divine Strake blast is expected to eject into a 10,000-foot high dust cloud that could reach the East Coast. As one colleague of mine put it: 'It sounds like they jumped in their car, drove past the ground-zero at 60 miles per hour holding a Geiger counter out of the driver's side window and concluded the test was safe.'

So, in spring 2007, the government will announce a date for Divine Strake, giving less than sixty days for citizens to educate themselves and discern how the 'new' and revised environmental assessment compares to the one that was withdrawn in late May. Perhaps the journalist Robert C. Koehler will have to revise his famous quote, 'Can a finding withdrawn really have been a "finding" in the first place?' to 'Can a revision of a withdrawn finding be any less of no "finding" at all?'

Although any self-respecting scientist can see that there will never be a 'finding' until an EIS for Divine Strake is completed, there is no end in sight for the growing Escher-esque painting that the government is making of Divine Strake. A stairway to Indiana leads right back to Nevada. A passage to a 'finding' really leads to 'no finding' at all. And worst, a tunnel that appears to have a light at the end of it in reality leads to darkness.

In this day and age, we cannot any longer accept with complacency being casual patrons of the faux-arts of governmental disinformation. We must hone and develop our abilities to be able to tell the real Monet from the fake one or, in this case, a government lie from the truth that will hurt ourselves and our children.


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Andrew Kishner is author of nuclear non-fiction books dealing with the EPA's rigged monitoring of the Fukushima disaster and atomic veteran claims of human experimentation during 1950's A-bomb tests.

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