It was great to visit NNSS for the first time. This location is history and as I found out a bit of a time capsule. News knob did bring back memories for some reason. I had seen videos from there in the past or something.
We stopped at the first Check-Point to Mercury 1/2 mile off HWY 95. The guard seemed to just eyeball the bus and then we continued on to the main entrance where a female security guard inspected the bus and passengers for badges.
We stopped for a quick restroom break at the Mercury cafeteria.
The guides said some tours drive through giant tunnels but our tour did not visit the tunnels.
As we were heading into Frenchman Flat a vapor trail was seen going straight up just over the ridge to the right (south) and then straight down. I didn't spot the aircraft or drone but one of the guides dismissed it as the Thunderbirds training.
We toured Frenchman Flat the site and structures where early 50's nucs were set off in NV. Thick reinforced concrete seems like the way to go if you want to build a strong nuclear resistant structure.
Next we spotted a heard of about 20 - 25 young antelope just loping around the desert. There was mention that an eagle was killed one day out there and the carcass was so big that it covered the entire road with its wingspan. Sounded like one of those Phoenix birds to me. I don't know when that was. It is a big deal I was told if any animals get killed out there. Oh yea, to the west of Hwy 95 maybe 10 mins before the Mercury turnoff we spotted 5-6 wild horses including a couple of small ones. I have never spotted wild horses south of Benton in the past.
We had a long well versed talk from a scientist / engineer at area 5 Radioactive Waste Management Complex. I don't really understand why this complex is there. It seemed to me this stuff (the waste) could have been dumped in the local city dump with no hazard to the public. This site also includes asbestos and lead solid waste. There is a new contractor(s) that took over for the old contractor. I will allow you to draw your own conclusions. I assume that the government the American public now own this waste.
One interesting point, I asked the presenter about Yucca Mountain and he told me that it was for containing high level nuc wastes. He initially made no reference to the fact Yucca Mountain is supposed to be shut down. On the way out of this facility the bus was checked with a Geiger counter. We were allowed to continue on.
I was told Wackenhut was replaced by different security company but there were no details as to why. This did not happen recently so far as I know.
It was mentioned by one of the guides that a couple years back 2 French guys in a car blew by the Mercury security check point and claimed they were looking for gas. Maybe they were just headed to Frenchman Flat....
One thing mentioned was that the DHS is working on the development of IED's so they can better detect them in Afghanistan and elsewhere. I did not know what to make of that.
I asked about Halliburton. I was told that Halliburton used to supply the drilling mud back in the day. (Amazing, Halliburton passes the spell checker.)
Both guides said they had seen F-117's in the air in the vicinity of the site. I told them I thought they were mothballed in Northern Nevada. One said something about Arizona. They may have been seeing craft similar to F-117's and just got it wrong..... not sure. To the best of my knowledge all F-117's have been taken out of service.
We checked out Sedan Crater. That was rather amazing. We were told the Russians used a nuc to make a lake or divert a river. Sedan was completely dry.
On the way to Ice Cap we passed several craters created by past underground nuclear testing. I was told there were a few "duds" that did not go critical but I did not get a number of the tests that failed. We ate our sac lunches on the bus as were drove to Icecap.
The most interesting stop for me was ICE CAP .... a nuclear underground test frozen in time since 1992. The entire shot minus the real nuc is still suspended from the top of the 4-story protective tower. There is a fake prototype nuc in the place of the real device it was maybe 2 feet long and 12 inch diameter,. tapered.
We viewed the hardware used to suspend the device from the second floor level. There seemed to be some risk involved but no one seemed to address it. They had real live Andy Gump type toilets outside that were still being serviced. I wish I had that contract. They did not seem to get any use. All of the cables and test instrumentation trailers were still just sitting there since 22 years... pretty crazy. This was supposed to be a two device test with the USA device blowing off seconds prior to the UK device. There was some subtle political or European Agreement reason for setting off the USA device first.
There is a area of Creech I was told 'owned' by the UK Military and there is always something going on there.
I was told the Catholic Church... (unknown persons) recently toured the test site.
We drove past the DAF and it was heavily secured with guards and barriers.
We drove by T-1 used for first responder training. some 100,000 first responders were trained there. Money money money and probably DHS involved ... not sure.
We never got close to U1A but it sounded as if it is fully operational with all sorts of tests on PU and its properties along with some fusion experiments.
There are I was told still some scientists working on the nuclear rocket program but I don't know how many.