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Are the remains of an experimental reactor buried on the Niagara Falls storage site?

A wide range of radioactive material was dumped cavalierly on site during the Second World War and the decades that followed: plutonium, uranium, thorium, cesium, polonium, strontium, and other dangerous materials. On site today, buried with that steel ball, is what is assumed to be irradiated graphite and almost 4,000 tons of radioactive radium-226, the largest repository in the western hemisphere, representing a staggering quantity of radiation.

—isotopes of plutonium, uranium, cesium, polonium, and other elements that are produced only inside nuclear reactors and by nuclear explosions—

It was known as the Radiological Warfare, or RW, program, and under its auspices scientists studied what materials could best be weaponized, what health consequences they would have on an enemy,

The Bomb That Fell On Niagara: The Sphere Artvoice Weekly Edition » Issue v7n39 (09/24/2008), by Geoff Kelly & Louis Ricciuti

Are the remains of an experimental reactor buried on the Niagara Falls storage site?

This is going to seem complicated and take a long way to get where it’s going. So here’s the gist, right upfront: Possibly, in Lewiston, are buried the remnants of an experimental nuclear reactor dating from the 1940s. This reactor would have been part of a secret program to weaponize poisonous materials—a program with roots in the study of poison gases in the First World War and whose culmination is found today in the use of depleted uranium munitions around the world.

Sure, it sounds like a plot inspired by Dr. Strangelove. But read on.

Amid the radioactive slurry and scrap interred in the 10-acre interim containment facility at the Niagara Falls Storage Site in Lewiston is a curiosity: a hollow industrial steel ball, 38 feet in diameter.

You won’t find that house-sized steel ball on any waste materials manifest, at least not on any manifest released to the public by the US Army Corp of Engineers, which is the site’s caretaker, or the US Department of Energy, which owns the site and the hazardous waste buried there.

The ball exists in aerial photographs taken of the site in the mid 1940s, however, and it appears to have been rediscovered in a 2002 electric resistivity underground imaging study performed by defense contracting giant SAIC.

In those aerial photos, the ball sits some distance from the main cluster of buildings; the nearest structure is a concrete silo, which eventually became a receptacle for high-energy radium wastes, a legacy of local industry’s central role in the Manhattan Project and the Atomic Energy Commission, which produced the first atomic bombs.

The Army Corps say there is no documentary record of the ball having been removed from the site. And the 2002 electric imaging scans suggest that a steel sphere, 38 feet in diameter, just like the one in the photos, is buried about a quarter mile from the ball’s original location, on the developed portion of a vast, former federal reservation called the Lake Ontario Ordnance Works. The LOOW came online officially in 1942, a 7,500-acre facility cobbled together from farm fields by the Department of War. Its initial use, according to the site’s official history, was a TNT factory. That factory closed, however, after nine months, at the height of the Second World War. The factory and all its infrastructure—miles of massive pipes, a water and power grid sufficient to sustain a city of 100,000 people, dozens of industrial buildings—were declared surplus.

The LOOW’s actual uses have been a mystery, whose plots and subplots have been revealed slowly and grudgingly by an unforthcoming federal government. ……..

Various sectors of the vast compound became dumping grounds for toxic radiological and chemical waste produced in Niagara Falls factories, as well as laboratories and reactors nationwide, working first on the atom bomb project and later on other Atomic Energy Commission and defense- and intelligence-related projects. A wide range of radioactive material was dumped cavalierly on site during the Second World War and the decades that followed: plutonium, uranium, thorium, cesium, polonium, strontium, and other dangerous materials. On site today, buried with that steel ball, is what is assumed to be irradiated graphite and almost 4,000 tons of radioactive radium-226, the largest repository in the western hemisphere, representing a staggering quantity of radiation.

Beginning in 1980, these wastes—originally dumped in open pools, seeping out of corroded barrels, or just piled on open ground—were consolidated by the DOE into a temporary containment structure on the 119-acre Niagara Falls Storage Site.

The existence on the LOOW of particularly exotic transuranics (that is, above uranium on the periodic table) and fission materials—isotopes of plutonium, uranium, cesium, polonium, and other elements that are produced only inside nuclear reactors and by nuclear explosions—has begged an explanation for decades. The Army Corps says that these transuranics and fission materials arrived at the LOOW with waste from the Navy’s Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory near Schenectady. But the waste from Knolls doesn’t explain all the transuranics and fission materials found on the LOOW, according to some experts, and it doesn’t explain how widespread and how much.

That steel sphere buried among this collection of radiological waste suggests another, simpler explanation: Could that steel ball—a Hortonsphere, named for the inventor of the process of its fabrication—been a component in an early model of an experimental ball-and-pile reactor? One in which exotic materials were created or irradiated, all in the service of a federal weapons program that sought to find new and lethal applications of the materials created in Niagara Falls for the Manhattan Project and beyond?

“I’d have to say yes,” says Tedd Weyman, of the Uranium Medical Research Centre, based in Toronto.

Occam’s Razor

Weyman is a physicist and his group, UMRC, studies the effects of uranium, transuranium elements, and radionuclides produced by the process of uranium decay and fission. UMRC is especially interested in the health effects of depleted uranium, whether it enters the environment as a result of munitions use or as waste.

Weyman examined the aerial photographs of the ball and silo, the list of transuranics and fission materials found on site, and the electric imaging scan that seemed to show that same ball from the photos buried alongside radioactive waste. He reviewed documents that describe the history of the LOOW site and of Niagara Falls industry over the past 60 or so years: the metals and chemicals and devices created in nearby factories, the experimental programs undertaken by defense and intelligence agencies beginning in the 1940s. He considered the size of the Hortonsphere, which he said is consistent with a ball reactor, and its placement in relation to the silo, which is consistent with the pile in a ball and pile reactor—that is, the source of the reactor’s “fuel” and critical reactions.

Weyman then listened to the explanations the Army Corps offered for the ball and the transuranics and fission products: that the ball was used to store anhydrous ammonia used in making TNT and the transuranics and fission products came from Knolls. He concluded that an on-site reactor was a far simpler explanation.

“They’re fission products,” Weyman says of the residues found on site…..

On the subject of the history of the LOOW site and the environmental dangers it poses, the Army Corps has been less than reliable when discussing the documentary evidence. In 2000, for example, when offered evidence that plutonium-tainted waste from medical experiments conducted at the University of Rochester had been buried on the LOOW site, the Corps denied such evidence existed. Eventually, they allowed both that the evidence existed and that the plutonium-tainted waste had been found on site…….

Occam’s Razor is the principle that the simplest explanation is most often the correct one. There’s that anomaly, exactly the diameter of the ball in question, which is exactly the size and manufacture of a ball reactor vessel. It is interred alongside radioactive waste. It originally sat near a silo, which once stored radioactive waste; a 1944 photo of the site looks like a photo of a ball and pile reactor of that era. And there are transuranics and fission materials buried nearby, as well as irradiated graphite, whose nature, quantity, and location aren’t completely explained by the Knolls hypothesis.

“If it quacks, is it not a duck?” Weyman says. “It’s quacking pretty loud.”……….

It was known as the Radiological Warfare, or RW, program, and under its auspices scientists studied what materials could best be weaponized, what health consequences they would have on an enemy, how best to deliver and disperse radioactive materials to a battle zone, and how much to use. This research was more secretive, but here too the expertise of local industries proved valuable. In a brochure from the postwar era, Bell Aircraft (later Bell Aerospace) bragged of its research in area weapons: that is, devices that disperse materials across a battlefield. Niagara Sprayer (a.k.a. FMC, the Middleport company that manufactured Agent Orange) created specialized compounds and nozzles for spraying agricultural metals, powders, and insecticides.

And over at the LOOW site, there was a mammoth federal reserve on which exotic radioactive wastes were accumulating.

Bob Nichols, the San Francisco-based writer who came to the same conculsion as Weyman about the ball buried on the NFSS, specializes in the history of this second track of research. He draws a straight line that connects the radiological warfare program to American research into poison gases, such as mustard gas and chlorine gas (both of which were produced in Niagara County), during the First World War; that line passes through the Manhattan Project along the way, and continues to the present-day use of depleted uranium munitions, which release a cloud of poisonous ceramicized uranium particles as a form of gas when they vaporize on impact.

Nichols explains that the first track—the building of more and better nuclear weapons—created vast stores of radiological waste materials. “The question back then was what on earth to do with it,” he said………

Whatever took place on the former LOOW site in the first decades of the Cold War may have evolved and—like so many local industries—moved away. But its legacy is in the dirt, air, and water. It’s interred under that clay cap. It’s in the region’s higher-than-expected rates of cancer, diabetes, and other illnesses. History should matter to the Corps as much as it matters to those who live in its aftermath.

For more documents and photographs related to the article, visit AV Daily at Artvoice.com. http://artvoice.com/issues/v7n39/the_sphere.html

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October 16, 2017 - Posted by | history, radiation, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war

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