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Talk to Terrie: While Declassified, Area 51 Still Retains Its Secrets – Part 2

July 24, 2018

July 24, 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)

To briefly recap Part 1 – Department of Labor’s Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (DEEOIC) acknowledged that Area 51 existed five years before the official government declassification. DEEOIC determined that Area 51 was part of the Nevada Test Site (NTS). Despite this acknowledgement, neither DEEOIC nor the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) lists Area 51 in their site description.

It is common knowledge that Area 51 was outside the conventional boundaries of NTS. I thought that Area 13 was part of Area 51 since there was a plutonium-dispersal experiment, known as Project 57. But I decided to double check.

The book, Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base by Annie Jacobson, has a map showing where Area 51 abuts NTS. It is the best map I have yet to find this area. The map shows that Area 13 is not inside Area 51 but is a bit north and west. See below. As you can see Area 51 is directly east of NTS Area 15. However, the author describes Area 13 as “a sub-parcel” of Area 51. The second map is the one published in NIOSH’s site description document.

The plutonium dispersal experiment, Project 57, mentioned in NIOSH’s site profile was a test to simulate a crash of an aircraft which carried an atomic missile. The experiment was meant to determine the dispersal field of the nuclear materials if a plane crashed with an atom bomb onboard. According to the book, some of this material from Area 13 was found within the main boundary lines of Area 51. This test may explain why DOL decided to include Area 51 as part of the Nevada Test Site.

But determining whether a worker is a covered employee is also complicated. Unlike other DOE facilities, many branches of the government, including the Central Intelligence Agency, operated in Area 51. This has proven to be a difficult for some Area 51 employees.