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Talk to Terrie: While declassified, Area 51 still retains its secrets – Part 1

July 11, 2018

July 11, 2018

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Photo is a satellite image of Area 51, Southern Nevada, a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base, collected on February 26, 2013. (DigitalGlobe/DigitalGlobe/Getty Images)

When I first decided to write about Area 51, my intent was to keep it a bit on the light side.  As I began my research I found that, like everything associated with the compensation program, Area 51 is a bit more complicated than I anticipated.

This idea for this blog began while I was working in the office.  The TV is always on in the living room. One day, instead of some good ole rock and roll music station playing my husband was watching a science channel. I heard something about the government finally admitting in 2013 that Area 51 existed. The Washington Post reported on this,

I thought to myself, “That isn’t right.”  The Department of Labor’s Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (DEEOIC) acknowledged the existence of Area 51 in a Final Circular issued five years earlier, in 2008.

SUBJECT:  Expansion of Nevada Test Site to include Area 51

The purpose of this circular is to notify all Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (DEEOIC) staff that Area 51 is part of the Nevada Test Site (NTS) for the years 1958-1999.

That was all I was planned to write about – that DEEOIC admitted Area 51 existed years before the article was published.  Since I had more space to fill for the blog I thought I’d add information for Area 51 from DEEOIC’s Site Exposure Matrix (SEM) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) webpage.  And that’s when I fell down the rabbit hole.

I checked DEEOIC’s SEM to see which toxic substances was/are present at Area 51.  There are 28 areas in SEM listed for the Nevada Test Site (NTS).  Area 51 is not one of them.

I then went to NIOSH’s site profile,  Area 51 is not included there either.  But they left a clue,

2.2.13 Officially, there is no Area 13 within the NTS boundary; however, there is a land plot on the NTTR [Nevada Test and Training Range] Complex, known as NTTR Complex Area 13, which is off the northeast corner of the NTS.  This was the location for Project 57, a plutonium-dispersal safety experiment in early 1957 (See Section 2.3.2). (Emphasis added)

I re-checked SEM and Area 13 is also listed. Wonderful! And since it is common knowledge that Area 51 was outside the conventional boundaries of NTS I thought that Area 13 was part of Area 51, especially since there was a plutonium-dispersal experiment conductedthere.  To be on the safe side, I decided to do further research.  Area 13 appears to be an area separate from both NTS and Area 51.

To be continued