Six Enter Nevada Site in Effort to Halt Test Scheduled for Thursday
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) _ U.S. officials announced plans Tuesday for a major nuclear weapons test, shortly after six anti-nuclear activists reportedly entered the sprawling Nevada Test Site in an effort to halt the blast.
Department of Energy spokesman Jim Boyer announced Thursday’s test shortly after Steve Rohl, a spokesman for the Boulder, Colo.-based Rocky Mountain Peace Center, said the six activists were headed for ground zero.
The test site covers 1,350 square miles of desolate desert and mountain ranges. It is not fenced and access onto the site is relatively easy, but DOE officials say sensitive areas are monitored by ground cameras, armed patrols and aerial surveillance.
″There is no way they could get to a sensitive area without being detected by armed guards,″ Boyer said of the intruders.
Rohl declined to say where the group entered the site.
Boyer gave a standard warning to managers of high-rise buildings in Las Vegas not to have workers in precarious positions at the time of detonation. Some swaying motion is often felt in tall buildings in Las Vegas seconds after major nuclear weapons tests.
Tests are listed as having an explosive force of less than 20 kilotons or 20 to 150 kilotons, and Boyer said Thursday’s test, code-named Belmont, would be in the larger range.
Not all tests are announced for security reasons, but those near the upper limits usually are announced in advance.
The nuclear device to be tested is buried 2,000 feet beneath the surface of Pahute Mesa, 103 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
It would be the 18th announced test since the Soviet Union announced a unilateral test moratorium Aug. 6, 1985.
Rohl said the peace group felt a ″heightened sense of urgency″ in light of the breakdown in disarmament talks Sunday in Iceland. President Reagan’s refusal to give up the Strategic Defense Initiative would require hundreds of tests in the Nevada desert, Rohl said.
The most recent previously-announced test was Labquark on Sept. 30. That device was detonated about 40 miles from the test site gate where some 500 physicians and peace activists had gathered for the largest protest to date in the desert.
Protest groups have demonstrated at the gates to the site for several years and earlier this year began making intrusions onto the grounds. Rohl said this is the sixth intrusion to protest a test.
DOE officials previously conducted ground and aerial searches for such intruders, but announced two months ago they would halt that policy because of expense.
Rohl identified the six who went onto the site as Beverly Lyne, 35, and Steve Smith, 34, both of Boulder, Colo.; John Seward, 26, of San Francisco; Mike Geare, 30, of Long Beach, Calif.; Amy Millhauser, 24, of Nederland, Colo. and Charlie Hilfenhaus, 37, of Las Vegas.