Report: US came close nuclear disaster in NC in 1961 - WNCT

Report: US came close nuclear disaster in NC in 1961

Posted: Updated:
LONDON -

A U.S. hydrogen bomb nearly detonated on the nation's east coast, with a single switch averting a blast which would have been 260 times more powerful than the device that flattened Hiroshima, a newly published book says.
    
In a recently declassified document, reported in a new book by Eric Schlosser, the supervisor of the nuclear weapons safety department at Sandia national laboratories said that one simple, vulnerable switch prevented nuclear catastrophe.
    
The Guardian newspaper published the document on Saturday.
    
Two hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina on Jan. 24, 1961 after a B-52 bomber broke up in flight. One of the bombs apparently acted as if it was being armed and fired - its parachute opened and trigger mechanisms engaged.
    
Parker F. Jones at the Sandia National Laboratories analyzed the accident in a document headed "How I learned to mistrust the H-Bomb."
    
"The MK39 Mod 2 bomb did not possess adequate safety for the airborne-alert role in the B-52," he wrote. When the B-52 disintegrates in the air it is likely to release the bombs in "a near normal fashion," he wrote, calling the safety mechanisms to prevent accidental arming "not complex enough."
    
The document said the bomb had four safety mechanisms, one of which is not effective in the air. When the aircraft broke up, two others were rendered ineffective.
    
"One simple, dynamo-technology, low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe!" Jones wrote, adding that it could have been "bad news - in spades" if the switch had shorted.
    
Schlosser discovered the document, written in 1969, through the Freedom of Information Act.
    
It is featured in his new book on nuclear arms, "Command and Control," which reports that through FOI he discovered that at least 700 "significant" accidents and incidents involving 1,250 nuclear weapons were recorded between 1950 and 1968.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • New taxi options in Raleigh offer more than standard fare

    New taxi options in Raleigh offer more than standard fare

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:11 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:11:57 GMT
    A pair of new ride sharing smartphone apps launched in Raleigh on Thursday, to the dismay of some traditional taxi services.Uber and Lyft are both well-established in some larger cities. The services connect independent drivers in their personal vehicles with people who need a ride. The car is ordered and paid for using the app. Once inside the vehicle, no money exchanges hands.WNCN decided to try out the service for ourselves. We downloaded both apps. Uber did not have any cars available nea...
    A pair of new ride sharing smartphone apps launched in Raleigh on Thursday, to the dismay of some traditional taxi services.Uber and Lyft are both well-established in some larger cities. The services connect independent drivers in their personal vehicles with people who need a ride. The car is ordered and paid for using the app. Once inside the vehicle, no money exchanges hands.WNCN decided to try out the service for ourselves. We downloaded both apps. Uber did not have any cars available nea...
  • Sexercise provides more than physical fitness

    Sexercise provides more than physical fitness

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:01 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:01:21 GMT
    Physical and mental health are both benefits of traditional exercise, but there can be hidden benefits as well in other non-traditional ways to get fit.
    Physical and mental health are both benefits of traditional exercise, but there can be hidden benefits as well in other non-traditional ways to get fit.
  • Man found shot in Raleigh apartment

    Man found shot in Raleigh apartment

    Thursday, April 24 2014 11:33 PM EDT2014-04-25 03:33:21 GMT
    Raleigh police said a 35-year-old man died Thursday afternoon after being found in an apartment with gunshot wounds.
    Raleigh police said a 35-year-old man died Thursday afternoon after being found in an apartment with gunshot wounds.
Powered by WorldNow

3221 South Evans Street
Greenville N.C. 27834

Telephone: 252.355.8500
Fax: 252.355.8568
Email: newsdesk@wnct.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.