Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Road to Knowheresville: Toxic Tooele

Next time you're planning on taking your high-level nuclear waste on vacation with you, be sure you don't visit Skull Valley, Utah... Unless, of course, you have your permit...Then, apparently your high-level nuclear waste is welcome here, and I guess you are welcome to bring in low-level nuclear waste at your own convenience, and without a permit. Tongue in Cheek?

Skull Valley is no stranger to toxic governmental activities, and has seen it all - from rocket tests, to open-air biological weapons tests.

Highway 196 is a long windless road and serves as the primary access from the north.
The old Tekoy Test Range, once a high-tech test area for rockets and related operations, appears more like a ghost town now.
Behind the gate a lone, cracked and overgrown road heads west across the desert.
A bit further south is the location where thousands of sheep mysteriously died in 1968. The infamous Sheep Incident, as it has come to be remembered, was the result of an accident during one of hundreds of open-air chemical weapons tests at the nearby Dugway Proving Grounds. Oops!
Dugway Proving Grounds is off limits to anyone other than official personnel. And they're dead-serious about it too.
Dugway Proving Grounds has hosted hundreds of open-air biological and chemical weapons tests, even intentional meltdowns that were conducted for research purposes.

Looking back into Skull Valley from Lookout Pass reveals part of the expansive property of the Proving Grounds. The Lincoln Continental Highway once passed through Dugway, but now, that route is closed to tourists and historians alike.
To the east of Dugway, over the Stansbury Mountain Range, in Rush Valley, sits the south area of the Tooele Army Depot where Uncle Sam has been busy destroying the United States' chemical weapons stockpile at the Deseret Chemical facility.
TAD was home to the majority of the United States nastiest weapons of mass destruction stockpile. Now, nearly all of the chemical weapons have been eliminated in this high-tech incineration facility.
The Tooele County Emergency Warning System was designed to alert local citizens of chemical and biological leaks, threats and accidents at the proving grounds. Numerous announcement towers are located throughout the county, in the event of an emergency. The system is tested every Wednesday afternoon.

With Deseret Peak in the background, this tower serves the Grantsville Reservoir area.
This tower serves the South-East edge of Tooele. Notice the Tooele Army Depot north area in the valley behind the tower.

If this had been an actual emergency, you may have heard one of the following prepared messages:

"Warning. Warning. An emergency condition exists at Deseret Chemical Depot. Stand by for instructions and tune to a local radio station or television station for emergency information."

"Evacuate. Evacuation is required for your safety. Evacuate quickly and calmly north toward Interstate 80."
"Go inside. Stay indoors. Close all windows and doors. Turn off all heating and air intake systems. Stay indoors."


"If you have not evacuated, go inside now for your safety. Close all windows and doors... Stay indoors and stand by for information."

Enjoy your stay in Tooele.

No comments: