Beating nukes into plowshares

I thought I was cynical enough.  Nope, not by a gazillion miles.  Turns out both the US and the Russians were keen on using nukes for peace.  Some of this I knew, but I didn’t realise it was quite so extensive…

“Project Plowshare was the overall United States term for the development of operation plowshare
techniques to use nuclear explosives for peaceful construction purposes. It was the US portion of what are called Peaceful Nuclear Explosions (PNE).”




And the Australian connection – from Scott Kirsch’s 2005 book “Proving Grounds: Project Plowshare and the Unrealized Dream of Nuclear Earthmoving”

proving grounds by scott kirsch

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  1. FWIW Canada’s been there too. A late ’50s peaceful use contemplated for extracting Alberta’s tarsands…approved and then cancelled.

    Project Oilsand, also known as Project Oilsands, and originally known as Project Cauldron, was a 1958 proposal to exploit the Athabasca Oil Sands in Alberta via the underground detonation of up to 100 nuclear explosives;[1] hypothetically, the heat and pressure created by an underground detonation would boil the bitumen deposits, reducing their viscosity to the point that standard oilfield techniques could be used.

    Project Cauldron was suggested by L.M. Natland, a geologist working for Richfield Oil, in response to American efforts to find peaceful uses for atomic energy. An investigative committee was formed with the support of Alberta’s Social Credit government. One of the committee’s early recommendations was that, in order to minimize public fears, a “less effervescent name”[2] should be used; Project Cauldron was subsequently renamed Project Oilsand.

    In April 1959, the Federal Mines Department approved Project Oilsand; Pony Creek, Alberta (103 kilometres [64 miles] from Fort McMurray) was selected as a test site.[3] Before the project could continue beyond these preliminary steps, however, the Canadian government’s stance on the use of nuclear weapons shifted towards one of non-proliferation; out of concerns that it would increase the risk of Soviet espionage, Project Oilsand was put on hiatus.[3] In April 1962, Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs Howard Charles Green said “Canada is opposed to nuclear tests, period”;[4] Project Oilsand was subsequently canceled.

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