Award Date

Spring 1997

Degree Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Environmental Science

Number of Pages



The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) (now the U.S. Department of Energy), in testing the safety of nuclear weapons under many different conditions, detonated single plutonium bearing devices in such a fashion as to simulate an unintentional detonation of the high-explosive portion of nuclear weapons. This resulted in the uncontained spread of plutonium and other radionuclides, such as americium and depleted uranium, in the environment in the vicinity of these experiments. The Double Tracks site was one of these experiments on the Tonopah Test Range (TTR) which was contaminated hi excess of 200 picocuries per gram (pCi/g). The Double Tracks site is located in Stonewall Flat on Range 71 North of the Nellis Air Force Range (NAFR), northwest of the NTS (see figure 1). The nearest town is Goldfield, Nevada, located approximately 14 miles west of the site. (DOE, EA for Double Tracks Test Site, 1995). The DOE in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), completed and issued an Environmental Assessment (EA), a Comment Response Document, and a Finding of no Significant Impact (FONSI) in April 1996 for the proposed Double Tracks Project. The remediation of the Double Tracks Site was completed in September 1996. (DOE, Finding of No Significant Impact, 1996) Subsequent to the explosive test, a radiation exclusion zone was created to restrict access to the contaminated area. The exclusion zone was a five sided area roughly 3,000 feet in length and 750 feet in width (see photo No. 3). A wire strand fence was constructed around the zone to prevent inadvertent intrusion. The area characterized, excavated, and disposed of consisted of a smaller area within the original fenced area. (DOE, Double Tracks Sampling and Analysis Plan, 1995)


Nevada – Nevada Test Site; Nuclear weapons – Testing; Radioactive pollution


Environmental Sciences