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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


NEVADA TEST SITE

Numbered Areas 25 - 30

Area 25 - This is the largest area on the NTS. It occupies some 578 km2 (223 mi2) in the southwestern corner of the site and includes an entrance gate to the NTS. Located roughly in the center of Area 25, Jackass Flats was the site selected for a series of ground tests of reactors, engines, and rocket stages as part of a program to develop nuclear reactors for use in the nation's space program. In the early 1960s, the Atomic Energy Commission and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration negotiated an interagency agreement to establish and manage a test area at the NTS, designated as the Nuclear Rocket Development Station. These facilities, inactive since 1973, remain today in various stages of disrepair. They consist of three widely separated reactor test stands; two maintenance, assembly, and disassembly facility buildings; a Control Point complex; an administrative area complex; and a radioactive materials storage area. Area 25 is divided into multiple zone categories: Yucca Mountain Site Characterization Zone; Research, Test, and Experiment Zone; and Reserved Zone. The Yucca Mountain Site Characterization Zone within the boundaries of the NTS represents a land assignment area for site characterization activities. The former Nuclear Rocket Development Station administrative area complex in Area 25 has been rededicated as the Yucca Mountain Site Characterization Central Support Site. Limited Yucca Mountain characterization activities are also conducted off site and beyond Area 25. Similarly, the NTS has monitoring activities off site. The Research, Test, and Experiment Zone in Area 25 is used by the U.S. Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory for depleted uranium testing. Two classifications of tests are conducted under this program, open-air tests and X-tunnel tests. These tests include hazard classification and system tests. Research sites within the Reserved Zone include the Treatability Test Facility and Bare Reactor Experiment Nevada (BREN) Tower. The Treatability Test Facility was established in Area 25 for bench-scale testing of physical processes for separating plutonium and uranium from contaminated soils. Area 25 was used in the early 1980s for MX (Peacekeeper) missile siting studies and canister ejection certification tests. The 465-m (1,527-ft) BREN Tower has been used intermittently by a number of organizations to conduct sonic-boom research, meteorological studies, and free-fall/gravity-drop tests. More recently, the facility has been used in support of the Brilliant Pebbles program, as well as in studies to develop the technology and measurement techniques for advanced infrared imaging from space satellites. The Rock Valley Study Area is located south of Jackass Flats Road on the southern boundary of Area 25. This location was selected in 1960 for controlled studies relating to the effects of radiation on a desert ecosystem. During the past three decades, these fenced study plots have been used by a number of government-sponsored scientists, as well as students and others conducting environmental research projects and experiments. Portions of the Area 25 Reserved Zone are used by the military for land navigation and training exercises.

Area 26 - This area, within the Reserved Zone, occupies 57 km2 (22 mi2) in the south-central area of the NTS. The southern portions of this area were used in the past for nuclear-powered ramjet engine tests known as Project Pluto. The residual test facilities include a control point, test bunker, compressor house and air-storage facilities, and a disassembly building.

Area 27 - This area, within the Critical Assembly Zone, occupies 130 km2 (50 mi2) in the south-central portion of the NTS. Area 27's principal assembly facilities include five assembly bays, four storage magazines, two combination assembly bay/storage magazines, and three radiography buildings. The Area 27's critical assembly facilities are an alternate to the Device Assembly Facility. Area 27 was also used in the past for the Super Kukla Reactor Facility.

Area 28 - No longer in existence, the Area 28 designation formerly applied to a portion of the NTS that has since been absorbed into Areas 25 and 27.

Area 29 - This area, within the Reserved Zone, occupies 161 km2 (62 mi2) on the west-central border of the NTS. The site of a communications repeater station for the NTS is located in the Shoshone Mountains.

Area 30 - This area, within the Reserved Zone, occupies 150 km2 (58 mi2) and, like Area 29, is on the western edge of the NTS. Area 30 also has fairly rugged terrain and includes the northern reaches of Fortymile Canyon. In the past, Area 30 has had limited use in support of the nation's nuclear testing programs, but in the spring of 1968 it was the site of Project Buggy, the first nuclear row-charge experiment in the Plowshare Program.




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