The blog of Xeno, a slightly mad scientist
An H-bomb that accidentally plunged into a North Carolina field in 1961 came far too close to actually exploding, according to a secret document newly published by the Guardian.
“Yeah. It would have been bad news – in spades.”
Newly declassified documents are on everyone’s mind these days, as are inadequate safeguards on national-security programs. But the latest secret doc to see daylight makes the NSA’s surveillance missteps look rather like child’s play – at least in comparison to nuking your own country.
That’s right, the Guardian reports that the US nearly took out a nice chunk of the Eastern seaboard in 1961 when a B-52 bomber broke apart in midair over North Carolina and dropped two hydrogen bombs – one of which came one electrical switch away from detonating.
The incident has been talked about for years, but this is the first time this secret document discussing the matter has been published in declassified form, the Guardian says.
The document – obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by journalist Eric Schlosser (whom some may know as the author of “Fast Food Nation”) – shows that Parker Jones, a supervisor of nuclear safety at Sandia National Laboratories, determined in a report on the accident that “one simple, dynamo-technology, low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe.” Jones found that three other safety mechanisms in the bomb failed to operate.