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Matheson Questions Adequacy of Divine Strake Environmental Review

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Matheson Questions Adequacy of Divine Strake Environmental Review

Congressman Jim Matheson today reiterated his opposition to the proposed detonation of 700 tons of explosives at the Nevada Test Site-an experiment dubbed "Divine Strake"-in comments submitted to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).

"The Defense Threat Reduction Agency has been largely the cause of a great deal of anxiety and confusion throughout the western United States and particularly in Utah," Matheson writes.

Matheson submitted his comments on the draft Environmental Assessment issued by DTRA and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The document provides the agencies' analysis of the affects of the proposed blast, which will raise a dust cloud nearly 10,000 feet above the desert floor. The draft EA concludes that radiation may become airborne and drift off-site, potentially exposing the public, although in very small quantities. The public comment period on the draft EA ends February 7th.

Matheson notes that recent open house meetings DTRA hosted in St. George and Salt Lake City did not resolve the concerns he and his constituents have about the purpose of and the potential health risks associated with Divine Strake.

Matheson questioned why alternative locations for the test - such as the White Sands Missile Range-- were not analyzed by DTRA

In his comments, Matheson questions the purpose and need for the experimental blast and the adequacy of soil sampling at the spot within the test site where a huge pile of Ammonium Nitrate Fuel Oil (ANFO) will be exploded. Matheson notes that historical radiation fallout maps show that the ground may, in fact, be contaminated by fallout from past above-ground nuclear tests, in addition to underground tests conducted about a mile away from the proposed conventional blast site.

"Given the government's past track record of dismissing health and safety risks to the public-despite scientific data showing otherwise-it will take a more rigorous environmental review to assure me and many Utahns that there's nothing to fear from this test," said Matheson.

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