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Title: A Historical Evaluation of the U15 Complex, Nevada National Security Site, Nye County, Nevada

This report presents a historical evaluation of the U15 Complex on the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) in southern Nevada. The work was conducted by the Desert Research Institute at the request of the U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Field Office and the U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Three underground nuclear tests and two underground nuclear fuel storage experiments were conducted at the complex. The nuclear tests were Hard Hat in 1962, Tiny Tot in 1965, and Pile Driver in 1966. The Hard Hat and Pile Driver nuclear tests involved different types of experiment sections in test drifts at various distances from the explosion in order to determine which sections could best survive in order to design underground command centers. The Tiny Tot nuclear test involved an underground cavity in which the nuclear test was executed. It also provided data in designing underground structures and facilities to withstand a nuclear attack. The underground nuclear fuel storage experiments were Heater Test 1 from 1977 to 1978 and Spent Fuel Test - Climax from 1978 to 1985. Heater Test 1 was used to design the later Spent Fuel Test - Climax experiment. The latter experimentmore » was a model of a larger underground storage facility and primarily involved recording the conditions of the spent fuel and the surrounding granite medium. Fieldwork was performed intermittently in the summers of 2011 and 2013, totaling 17 days. Access to the underground tunnel complex is sealed and unavailable. Restricted to the surface, four buildings, four structures, and 92 features associated with nuclear testing and fuel storage experiment activities at the U15 Complex have been recorded. Most of these are along the west side of the complex and next to the primary access road and are characteristic of an industrial mining site, albeit one with scientific interests. The geomorphological fieldwork was conducted over three days in the summer of 2011. It was discovered that major modifications to the terrain have resulted from four principal activities. These are road construction and maintenance, mining activities related to development of the tunnel complex, site preparation for activities related to the tests and experiments, and construction of drill pads and retention ponds. Six large trenches for exploring across the Boundary geologic fault are also present. The U15 Complex, designated historic district 143 and site 26NY15177, is eligible to the National Register of Historic Places under Criteria A, C, and D of 36 CFR Part 60.4. As a historic district and archaeological site eligible to the National Register of Historic Places, the Desert Research Institute recommends that the area defined for the U15 Complex, historic district 143 and site 26NY15117, be left in place in its current condition. The U15 Complex should also be included in the NNSS cultural resources monitoring program and monitored for disturbances or alterations.« less
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  1. Desert Research Inst., Nevada University, Reno, NV (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Technical Report No. 109 Vol.3 of 4
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Desert Research Inst., Nevada University, Reno, NV (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States