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Drilling into a nuclear explosion cavity
23 July 2018
This is a non-O&G industry query. I am looking to get in touch with drillers who might have had experience with drilling operations targeting former sites of underground nuclear explosions. I am particularly interested in staff working for private companies that supported government projects.
11 answer(s)
Binachilles
Consultant Geophysicist
Geo Run Ltd
Total Posts: 7
Join Date: 23/07/18
Hi yusaf70. I am trying to collect background info from a very long time ago. It is related to drilling back operations following underground nuclear tests, anywhere in the world. Can you help?
Thanks in advance. Guillermo
Binachilles
Consultant Geophysicist
Geo Run Ltd
Total Posts: 7
Join Date: 23/07/18
Hi Scott,
You are right about confidentiality and secrecy, but after more than 30 years since those tests, perhaps the information is nor more anecdotal.

I am particularly interested how to best prepare to safely drill back into a cavity where a nuclear test took place.

However, the current CTBTO treaty allocates a extremely tight time window to drill back into a suspected cavity and today's safety knowledge and regulations are completely different to what it was back then.

Please let me know if you manage to find out more info.

Kind regards,
Guillermo
Binachilles
Consultant Geophysicist
Geo Run Ltd
Total Posts: 7
Join Date: 23/07/18
Thank you Iain. I have not had a chance to learnt anything about the drilling during the tests in the Pacific.
A lot of the information from US sources is not restricted. Unfortunately I have not come across anything from France...
Kind regards,
Guillermo
Binachilles
Consultant Geophysicist
Geo Run Ltd
Total Posts: 7
Join Date: 23/07/18
Dave,

Thanks again to you and the people at Rhythm Engineering Inc for the extra information. 
I was aware of the published info about the Nevada Tests and the Plowshare programme.

Kind regards,
Guillermo
Binachilles
Consultant Geophysicist
Geo Run Ltd
Total Posts: 7
Join Date: 23/07/18
Thank you Dave.
This is the first time I read something about the New Mexico 1961 test, despite having spent a lot of time going through archives.
While I was working at CTBTO I coordinated a review of the future of drilling in case of an inspection (i.e. North Korea). It would be a very tough job if asked to drill back into the cavity of a nuclear test, but it has been done in the past and, giving today's technology and new materials I am quite sure that it can be done safely.
admin
Managing Director (rp-squared.com)
Relentless Pursuit Of Perfection Ltd.
Total Posts: 468
Join Date: 10/01/05
Hi Guillermo

Here's some MORE additional information, courtesy of the network at Rhythm Engineering Inc.

"There is also the infamous Gnome-Coach Project located off of Hwy 128 near Carlsbad, NM (across from the WIPP site) led by Dr. Edmund Teller.

In 1961, a 3.1 kiloton hydrogen bomb was detonated in the Salado formation which subsequently breached its containment sending a radioactive cloud back over Carlsbad.

I don’t know if they’ve ever considered the site fully remediated. But they’re storing low level nuclear waste next door in the salt beds

Documents uploaded by user:
GnomeNVOFactSheet.pdf
admin
Managing Director (rp-squared.com)
Relentless Pursuit Of Perfection Ltd.
Total Posts: 468
Join Date: 10/01/05
Hi Guillermo

Here's some additional information, courtesy of the network at Rhythm Engineering Inc.

"If you research the Nevada Test Site (NTS) now called the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) you can find information. This PDF has information. there are others if you search for Nevada Test Site (NTS) http://40.83.178.193/docs/fact_sheets/DOENV_1068.pdf
 
Three natural gas wells were stimulated with project names Gasbuggy, Rulison, and Rio Blanco as part of the plowshares program. https://aoghs.org/technology/project-gasbuggy/
 
Rigs like EMSCO 3000 drilled these 6ft to 12ft holes. https://www.nnss.gov/docs/fact_sheets/DOENV_773.pdf"

With thanks to Bryan Dugas

Best wishes

Dave
IainDD
Lead ERD Advisor / Engineer / Instructor
Merlin ERD Limited
Total Posts: 17
Join Date: 04/05/16
Yeah, the well in Mururoa Atoll was drilled by Sedco Forex. The last test in 1995 resulted in the French Consulate in Perth, Australia being raised to the ground. Was working for SLB in Perth at the time and we were advised to stay away form the office as there was the possibility of demonstrations, even though we weren;t directly involved. Nothing happened.

As Scott said, I would be extremely surprised if anybody was going to tell you anything on an open forum re the wells. I'm sure they had to sign a ream full of paper.

yousaf70
Sr. Advisor, Well Engineering specialist Deepwater, ERD, HPHT & Special Projects
Chevron Corporation
Total Posts: 11
Join Date: 07/11/15
While working in different site/office across US, do invalve in different projects, could you plz explain more about your needs , so may help you out. 
Scott_McNeil
Consultant
SPREAD Associates
Total Posts: 153
Join Date: 05/03/08
Hi Guillermo,

Given the subject matter, I'm pretty sure that most of the people involved in such drilling operations would have had to sign non-disclosure agreements and/or be subject to that Countries equivalent of the UK's official secrets act.

Equally, given the time span, many of the senior people will have sadly passed away in the meantime.

I did come across one Superintendent over 20 years ago who had been involved in the US Govts programme. He could tell me some details about what they did to drill the shaft that the weapon was subsequently lowered into, but was not allowed to tell me anything about drilling into the test cavern after the weapon was exploded.

From memory, the drilling done in the Pacific was by a JU from Sedco Forex.

I do recall one article giving a few details of the drill back operations many, many years ago. I'll see if I can dig it up and post it.

All the best!

Scott
Binachilles
Consultant Geophysicist
Geo Run Ltd
Total Posts: 7
Join Date: 23/07/18
Wow, 2 years and no answers!

Let's open up the net a bit.

I know that folks from SLB were involved with drilling in the USA into cavity zones where a nuclear test had occurred.

I also now some drill-back operations have been carried out in Kazakhstan and the Pacific (French Islands) after nuclear tests in 80s-90s. All that expertise is needed today to shape up future inspections of countries testing nuclear weapons.

I hope somebody remembers or knows somebody that does.

Thanks in advance!
__________________________________

Note from moderator (Dave Taylor):

Guillermo, you are to be commended for your relentless pursuit of replies!  

  1. For any of you who are wanting to contribute, but are maybe constrained by "company policy", I will happily post anonymously (no name etc) on your behalf, using my profile.  Just email your input to me (dave@rp-squared.com) and I will do the rest.
  2. For those of you who have a colleague who could contribute, please forward this thread to them and invite them to contribute.
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