What you already know: Hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) is the process of pumping water deep into the Earth at tremendous pressures to break apart the surrounding rock and free the oil and gas reserves, which can then be pumped out and used.

People are passionately for and against fracking.

What you didn’t know: In the mid-1950s, scientists from the Atomic Energy Commission and officials from the U.S. Bureau of Mines began using nuclear bombs in fracking. (more powerful than what we dropped on Japan)

Dubbed “Project Plowshare”

First used in a remote gas well outside of Farmington, New Mexico, researchers lowered a 29-kiloton “Gasbuggy” nuclear device 4,000 feet into the Earth and set it off. The detonation significantly increased natural gas production.”

In 1969 at a gas well outside of Rulison, Colorado, the AEC set off a 43-kiloton nuclear bomb in an 8,500-foot deep well.

In  1973 they set off three 33-kiloton bombs in a single well near Rifle, Colorado. 

Approximately 82 million dollars had been invested in the nuclear gas stimulation technology program but after 25 years of gas production, more than 50 percent of the investment was wasted. At the same time, alternative, non-nuclear technologies were being developed, such as hydrofracturing.

Consequently, under the pressure of economic and environmental concerns, the Plowshare Program was discontinued at the end of 1975.

Join the conversation! 8 Comments

  1. I had never heard of that before

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I hadn’t known that nuclear bombs were used. Thankfully, they were set off deep underground. Hang on, doesn’t that mean that the nuclear stuff would be in the soil?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Doesn’t exactly help my low opinion of both fracking and nukes.

    Liked by 2 people


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