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U.S. cancels nonnuclear test blast in Nevada desert

February 23, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Facing opposition from two Western states, the Pentagon on Thursday scrapped plans for a 700-ton non-nuclear test blast that would have produced the first mushroom cloud of dust over the Nevada desert in decades.

Officials in Nevada and Utah said there was concern that the blast would scatter decades-old radioactive material from previous Cold War-era tests.

The Defense Department said it would find other ways to test the nation's ability to penetrate underground bunkers.

The cloud from the proposed blast would have soared over the site about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, an echo of long-ago open-air nuclear testing.

Originally scheduled for June 2, 2006, the test blast -- called Divine Strake -- had been postponed indefinitely until the Defense Threat Reduction Agency finally canceled it.

The decision was not based on any technical information that indicated the test would harm workers, the public or the environment, Pentagon official James Tegnelia said.

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