1950: Nuclear Facility to be Placed in an Arkansas National Park

Screen shot 2016-05-16 at 8.02.44 AM
Screen shot 2016-05-16 at 8.02.56 AMMany dismiss the theory that the federal government would place a nuclear facility within a national park. After reading the 1950 newspaper article at left, I am even more convinced there could be such a facility at Cumberland Gap National Park.

 

The above article is taken from the Hope Star, an Arkansas newspaper, in August of 1950. Congressman Boyd Tackett has indicated that northern Arkansas would get an H-bomb plant. Although there is no formal announcement from the Atomic Energy Commission, Tackett said “his information came from that source.”  Tackett said “the plant would be situated either in the Ouachita National forest or the Ozark National forest.

Tackett said, “Arkansas has been selected as the proper area…because it has the necessary requirements.”

This story echoes the story of the munitions facility I believe was constructed at Cumberland Gap; the experts recommended the best suited place for the plant yet, in the end, their advice was supposedly unheeded.

The following article details the region’s frustration:

“Several months ago it was announced the government would build a large hydrogen bomb plant in the heart of the Ozarks…It was pointed out the plant would be located in the interior of the country, safe from possible attack from either coast. It would not be possible, it was declared, for an enemy plane to penetrate that far into the interior, or to inflict important damage on this important facility.

But the plans have changed, and instead of being located in this comparatively safe region the plant is to be built in the Savannah Valley, only minutes by air from the Atlantic coast. The proposed plant would be an easy target for enemy bombers.” (2)

The author laments  that “politics” were the reason the plant location was changed; the Democratic party needed their southern voter numbers up. The author believes this was a move to win favor with those voters. I vehemently disagree. The likelihood the plant was installed there all along is a reasonable theory.

Just as President Wilson possibly visited a secret munitions facility at Cumberland Gap in 1918, did Truman visit a newly completed nuclear facility hidden in the Ozarks in 1952?

Truman may have visited secret nuclear base in the Ozarks in 1952
President Truman visited the Ozarks in 1952, officially to dedicate two dams. Did he visit a secret nuclear facility in the region as well?(3)

 

(1)”Tackett says state to get H-bomb plant.” Hope Star, August 26 1950.

(2)”Party must be served.” Terre Haute Star. December 14, 1950.

(3) “Presidential Pathways.” arkansas.com.
http://www.arkansas.com/!userfiles/presidential_pathways.pdf

The Airplane Room: Deep Under Cumberland Mountain

The following entry was written by a guest author who wishes to be known only as The Mysterious Man from Rose Hill. We’ve decided to name this huge underground cave “The Airplane Room” in memory of his father.

This is a story that was told to me by my father when I was 8 to 10 years old in the late 50’s. It was an exciting story for a young boy and I still have vivid memories of him telling it.

Please understand that everything I’m relating is hearsay as I have no way to verify or corroborate the account. My father was a very truthful person. In fact he would often admonish me as a child to never exaggerate or embellish a story. “If you stretch the facts, then no one will believe you when you do tell the truth,” he said.

Following is a recounting of the story as told by my father, as  I remember it:

The setting is in Cumberland Gap, Tennessee where my father lived with his family. The time is the early 40’s. It was the war years, and my Dad was in his early teens.

One night, Dad and two of his friends decided to go exploring in Gap Cave, known at that time as Cudjo’s Cave. Arriving late at night, after everyone had gone home, they entered the cave and began their exploration to see how far they could travel inside the cave. After making their way through rough terrain, narrow passages, small openings, mud and water for nearly half the night, they were surprised to enter a huge room much larger than anything they could have imagined.

“We were so excited to have made this amazing discovery,” Dad said, “And to think we were the first people to see it.”

I said, “Dad, how did you know that you were the first people to discover it? How did you know no one else had been there?”

He said, “Well, when we first went in that big room, there was water dripping everywhere. The water had puddled on the floor, and on top of the water, minerals had hardened like a thin sheet of ice on a pond. Where we walked, we broke through the crystal, just like breaking though thin ice, and it left our footprints visible. When we first went in, there were no other footprints, so we knew we were the first.

“Dad,” I said, excited, “just how big was this room? How many feet across?!”

“I don’t know exactly,” he said, “we didn’t have anything to measure with, but I know how big a football field is, and you could put several in it.”

“How many?” I asked.

“Well, several, ” he said.

“Dad, could you see all the way across from one side to the other? Was the ceiling high enough to see the walls all the way around?”

“Oh yeah, he said, “it had a high ceiling.”

“How high would you estimate?”

He said, “Well, it was high enough that you could fly an airplane around in it!”

“Dad,” I asked, “could you fly a passenger plane in it?”

“I don’t know about that,” he said, “but there’s plenty of room to fly a small two-seater plane around inside!”

“Could a small plane take off in that room?” I asked.

“No,” he explained, “the floor is not smooth enough. There are big boulders strewn across the floor. We thought that, in time, there must have been an earthquake and part of the ceiling must have fallen.”

“Do you think that room might ever be open to the public?”

“I doubt it,” he said. “It’s too far back in the mountain and too hard to access. Some of the openings are very small.”

“How long were you there exploring?”

“Not too long,” he replied. “It was a long trek to get there, and we had to be out before morning.”

“Dad,” I asked, “did you carve your names and a date, so people would know you were there?”

“No, he said, “we didn’t do that.”

“Dad, if I ever had a chance to explore that cave, is there any way I could know you were there?”

“Well…” he thought, “we did leave one thing behind. We noticed how heavily everything was mineralized, and we wondered how long it would take for the mineralization to occur. We left a coke bottle under a dripping stalactite thinking that we might come back some day.”

“Dad, how did you get inside the cave?”

“Well,” he said, “there are several ways to get in, but that’s a story for another time, and I have a hard day tomorrow. It’s bedtime and we’d better turn in.”

The Incredible Disappearing Nuclear Reactor

How do you make a 1150-ton nuclear reactor pressure vessel disappear?

In 1980, the heaviest load in state history crawled through East Tennessee toward the Phipps Bend nuclear plant, a TVA venture located near Surgoinsville. A nuclear reactor pressure vessel so large strengtheners had to be added to the roads and bridges to prevent crumbling and collapse.

The nuke plant never materialized, supposedly due to falling energy prices.

If you were old enough to remember the reactor coming to Hawkins County, chances are you still haven’t forgotten it. Power lines had to be raised up and roads were shut down for the reactor and its entourage. Person after person I’ve talked to vividly remembers the reactor arriving…but no one knows when it left.

Missing documents about Phipps Bend reactor

I sent a Freedom of Information Request to TVA to determine the fate of the reactor pressure vessel. After several weeks, the only document the FOIA officer was able to find was a letter from the Chattanooga TVA office to Chris Umberger of Dewberry and Davis. The letter first noted the original transfer of the reactor (and land surrounding it) from TVA to Phipps Bend Joint Venture; it then went on to indicate PBJV was going to sell the reactor to Dewberry and Davis for scrap.

1989 Letter: TVA Transfers Nuke Reactor Pressure Vessel to Dewberry and Davis

At the least, it is an interesting chain of ownership. The problem is, Dewberry and Davis is not a salvage company  (now known as Dewberry).  They are major players in the military industrial complex.  See “Wright receives President’s medal from the Society of American Military Engineers” -dewberry.com

Mysterious buildings constructed near the reactor

Without any other documentation existing, it is hard to know precisely when Dewberry took possession of the reactor. But we do know that by April of 1990, Claude Cain, a member of the Industrial Board and contractor himself, had begun work on a spec building at Phipps Bend that comprised 50,000 square feet.

To “spec” means building something and speculating that someone looking for real estate will find it desirable and purchase it after it was built. In other words, there was no buyer, there was no interest, yet it was built anyway under the guise it would help attract businesses to the area.

Chris Umberger, of Dewberry and Davis, oversaw this Phipps Bend development project including the spec building built by Cain. Incidentally, Mr. Umberger later went on to work for Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon, Inc., a governmental engineering company based out of none of other than Oak Ridge, Tennessee. From bargewaggoner.com:

As the industry revives nuclear power generation options, we have provided critical studies in support of new nuclear reactor permitting. Barge Waggoner offers a wide array of planning, permitting, design, compliance, and remediation services for new energy facility startups and modifications to existing facilities engaged in coal-fired, hydroelectric, natural gas, solar, and nuclear power generation.

Eight months after the TVA letter was written, Dewberry and Davis secured approval from city council to spec a second 40,000 square foot building at Rogersville Industrial Park, a mere fifteen miles away. (See “Testerman put on school board”)

To sum up, Dewberry, a well-known military engineering company, ends up with possession of the nuclear reactor at Phipps Bend. Almost immediately construction of a massive building with seemingly no purpose begins. Then a few months later, Rogersville City Council approves Dewberry and Davis’ bid to build another massive spec building a few miles away, again, without a buyer.

Al Gore arrives to the Phipps Bend site

Interestingly, a few days before the city council voted their approval on the second mysterious building at Rogersville Industrial Park, Senator Al Gore came to town to hail the development of Phipps Bend. Coincidence? Gore was a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee as well as the Armed Services committee. One of the aspects of defense the Armed Services committee oversaw was nuclear energy and its role in national security. Did Senator Gore come to Hawkins County to look in on the progress of the nuclear reactor’s relocation?  Did Senator Gore come to town to meet with council members and persuade them to put the vote for Dewberry and Davis’ spec building through?  “Senator Gore says Phipps Bend park is a ‘great site’“, Rogersville Review, Thurs. Aug 16, 1990

I have called the actual Phipps Bend Industrial Park. I have called the Hawkins County Sheriff. I have posted messages on the internet asking members of the Hawkins County community to come forward with any information about the missing reactor. I have called the courthouse. I have called environmental health. Each time I have received the same response- no one knows what happened to the 2.3 million pound reactor pressure vessel.

Even Chris Umberger, the Dewberry and Davis project manager at Phipps Bend and the recipient of the TVA letter that indicates his company was to take possession of the reactor, claimed he did not know what happened to the reactor during an April 16th phone interview. (Telephone interview transcript available upon request.)

I submit the U.S. Government utilized the engineering firm of Dewberry and Davis to place the the reactor underground using the spec buildings in Phipps Bend and Rogersville Industrial Park as cover. Once underground, engineers were able use the massive caverns, underground river (it stretches almost the entire length of Cumberland Mountain), and possibly even old mines to move the reactor precisely where they wished. I believe, in the end, the reactor ended up 40 miles away, near Cumberland Gap National Park (but not within the Park itself.) I don’t know how they did it. Perhaps one building was used to modify the reactor to make it more easily transported to the second site. I’m unsure. I just know that reactor pressure vessel has vanished into thin air, leaving behind the biggest elephant in the room for the United States government in 99 years.

Update December 2015: a second reactor pressure vessel is missing from Phipps Bend- find the story here.

Nazi Germany, Vemork, and Cumberland Gap

Screenshot 2015-04-13 23.53.37What do the Nazis, a Norwegian hydroelectric plant, and the saltpeter caves of southwest Virginia (including Cudjo’s) have in common?

The ability to make heavy water.

Water contains hydrogen. Normally, the hydrogen in water contains no neutron in its makeup, just a proton. Heavy water, however, contains hydrogen that has the added “weight” of a neutron in addition to the proton, hence the name “heavy water.”

Deuterium is another name for heavy water.

During WWII, Allied forces learned of Nazi interest in a Norwegian hydroelectric plant that also produced fertilizer (specifically, calcium nitrate, or saltpeter). Heavy water, or deuterium, was a by-product.

To Norwegian Resistance fighters during World War II, heavy water was a mysterious substance considered so perilous that they were willing, under orders from the Special Operations Executive in London, to sacrifice the lives of their countrymen in order to keep it out of Nazi hands.  – (1) PBS, Nova, “Hitler’s Sunken Secret”

The Allies surmised the Nazis wanted the factory for its by-product of  deuterium, which is critical to creating weapons-grade plutonium-239.

I believe the United States knew of the potential of creating fertilizer with hydroelectric power when the national defense act of 1916 went into effect.

Col. J.W. Joyes…was instructed to inspect sites [for the location of the nitrogen/fertilizer plant] extending from Roanoke, VA., to certain Alabama sites…(2) 66th Congress, Second Session, War Expenditures Ordnance

The nitrate supply committee recommended this to the 66th Congress:

That the construction of the initial plant be started at once at some point to be selected by the War Department in southwest Virginia or adjoining territory in West Virginia reasonably near to the sulphur, sulphuric acid, and coal supplies of that region. (2)

The hydroelectric U.S. Nitrate plant was eventually built in Sheffield, Alabama with the help of a Norwegian named Berg. (I suspect it is the same Berg who would later be associated with the Vemork plant in his home country.)

Clearly the experts thought President Wilson was misguided when he chose the Alabama location:

Why the President selected the site at Sheffield Ala., for nitrate plant No. 1, contrary to all reports and recommendations, is not known. (2)

I think the President chose Sheffield Ala. to direct attention away from the southwest Virginia saltpeter caves and the real work of munitions production. He visited Lincoln Memorial University in 1918 under the guise of receiving an honorary law degree. (8) It’s certain the trip was actually a visit to the saltpeter/nitrogen operations in Cumberland Mountain, a few short miles away.

It is important to note that TVA was successful at large scale fertilizer production in the Alabama plants (see Dr. Jeremy Whitlock’s statement near the end of the blog post.)

Below describes the way limestone is used to help manufacture saltpeter:

[Nitric] acid can be neutralized with ammonia to form ammonium nitrate or with calcium hydrate to form calcium nitrate (Norwegian saltpeter).

and

 …we allow the acid to pass through open towers, filled with limestone, and afterward we destroy the small amount of remaining acid….  (3) Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, Vol. 24

According to the above journal, this process takes 15,000 tons of limestone, 500 tons of lime, and  2500 tons of soda to produce 29,000 tons of saltpeter.

The November 2001 issue of Virginia Minerals “Geology and History of Confederate Saltpeter Cave Operations in Western Virginia” states:

In the 1860s the southern war machine benefited immeasurably from the conditions of climate, vegetation and geology that gave it the greatest concentration of saltpeter cave deposits in North America. (4)

Luckily for the U.S. Government limestone was abundant in western Virginia as well:

Cumberland Mountain has an extensive limestone cave system on the Virginia side. – Sherpa Guides, “Highroad Guide to the Virginia Mountains” (5)

But the government struck a home run when they discovered a small college named Lincoln Memorial University already had a hydroelectric plant deep inside one of these limestone saltpeter caves: Cudjo’s Cave.

…an active stream runs inside the cave, and was harnessed for drinking water and hydroelectric power. – us-highway.com (6)

It is unknown if it is the same hydroelectric plant mentioned in the 1911 edition of Southern Electrician:

Plans are underway for the erection of a hydro-electric plant for the purpose of supplying power to manufacturers near Cumberland Gap. The plant will be located on the Cap creek.(9)

It is not known if “Cap” is a misspelling of “Gap”.

All three elements needed to produce deuterium are located right here in southwest Virginia: the naturally thriving saltpeter, a catalyst (limestone) that would replenish and produce even more, and the power of hydroelectricity.

I asked Dr. Jeremy Whitlock, a Canadian reactor physicist with decades of experience, how the massive amount of heavy water needed for pressurized heavy water nuclear reactors, or PHWRs, is produced today:

In the future if industrial-scale production is needed again (and I hope it is), we will likely use a catalyzed exchange process attached to an existing process based on electrolysis or hydrogen reformation (e.g. fertilizer production). (7)

SOURCES:

1. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/hydro/water.html#h06

2. http://tinyurl.com/sheffield-nitrate

3. http://tinyurl.com/chemical-saltpeter

4. http://www.dmme.virginia.gov/commercedocs/VAMIN_VOL47_NO04.pdf

5. http://www.sherpaguides.com/virginia/mountains/app_plateau/cumberland_mountain.html

6. http://www.us-highways.com/cgap25.htm

7. Personal email, April 9 2015; copies available upon request

8. http://tinyurl.com/wilson-at-lmu

9. http://tinyurl.com/hydro-electric-gap

 

Cudjo’s Cave, Cumberland Gap Tunnel, and World Events: A Timeline

UPDATED April 11: the date of 1942 added to reflect the Allied forces discovering the Nazis using saltpeter to make heavy water for nuclear bombs in Norway.

1740- Caves in the western portion of Virgina are mined for saltpeter, also known as nitre, a crucial ingredient in gunpowder

1765-1783 and 1812-1815- The American Revolution and War of 1812. The saltpeter caves in Virginia continue to be a valuable source of nitre needed for the war efforts

1815-1860- Consumption of western Virginia nitre increased so much the caves could no longer keep up: the state had to import nitre to satisfy the demand

1861-1865- The Civil War. If nitre production was going to be profitable for Virginia and the Confederacy in the war effort, they had to find more saltpeter caves and invest capital in their development.  The Confederacy established the Nitre Corps (which became the Nitre and Mining Bureau) to this effect. Their efforts were successful; Virginia nitre production easily kept up with the military demands.

NOTE: Because of their deep underground location, the scattered saltpeter caves were valued by the Confederate military, as they proved to be an elusive target for enemy forces. (1. Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy)

1920- Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate TN purchases Cudjo’s Caverns (one of the Virginia saltpeter caves) from private owners, including the caves known as Soldiers Cave and King Solomon’s Cave.

Although originally separate caves, these two caves “were connected by a passageway and a larger main entrance by blasting and tunneling” although the date this connection was accomplished is unknown. We do know the caves remained separate at least as late as 1937. (2. Thacker, 212)

1939- World War II begins

1940- Congress authorizes the acquisition of land in the Cumberland Gap area for Cumberland Gap National Park, only after language is omitted from the Act calling it a “recreational area” (3)

1941- Pearl Harbor attacked, the United States enters WWII

1942-Allied Forces discover a Nazi-occupied Norwegian hydroelectric plant that also makes fertilizer out of saltpeter. They discover the real purpose of this plant: the production of heavy water, an essential component of nuclear weapons.

1947
-the start of the Cold War

-the title to Cudjo’s Cave (also known as Saltpeter Cave) is signed over to the state of Virginia and eventually transferred to the federal Park. Originally, the saltpeter cave was a separate holding within the National Park.

1954- a Masonic lodge, Martin’s Station Lodge No. 188 opens 1000 feet below Cumberland Mountain in Cudjo’s Cave. 345 Masons are present for the conferring of a Master Mason degree. (4)

1955- Although acquired in 1940, the Park was not opened to the public until 15 years later in 1955. (5)

1972- in November, hijackers threaten to crash plane into the Oak Ridge nuclear complex in Tennessee (6)

1973- Congress tells the National Park to construct the tunnels under Cumberland Gap (5)

1990 to 1991-  The Gulf War (Operation Desert Shield) begins, leading to Operation Desert Storm
– Construction of the Cumberland Gap Tunnel begins (5)

1992- the federal government closes Cudjo’s Caverns to the public indefinitely

1996- the Cumberland Gap Tunnel opens. The road to Cudjo’s Cave and over Cumberland Gap is removed soon after.(5)

It is 2015, and only recently did the Park start allowing very limited access to Cudjo’s Cave. See my post here about Cudjo’s Cave.

 

The federal government has had a keen interest in the saltpeter caves of western Virginia (including Cudjo’s Cave) from the 1700’s. As our government becomes less transparent, it’s hard to ignore the coincidental timing of Congress to act on the development of these caves, the Cumberland Gap area and the Cumberland Gap Tunnel in relation to world events, specifically military conflicts.

Coincidence? Or conspiracy?

Sources:
1. Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy;  http://dmme.virginia.gov/dgmr/civilwar_niter.shtml

2. Mountain Mysteries: The Mystic Traditions of Appalachia; Thacker, Larry. 2007

3. Cumberland Gap National Historic Park; Luckett, William. 1964
http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/cuga/luckett/index.htm

4. “York Lodge No. 22 Bulletin”; 2010
http://www.masonsinmaine.org/york22/TB112010.pdf

5. “Cumberland Gap Tunnel marks fifteenth anniversary”; Simmons, Morgon. 2011  http://www.knoxnews.com/news/nation-and-world/cumberland-gap-tunnel-marks-15th-anniversary

6. “Convicted hijacker  shares story; details 1972 threat to Oak Ridge”; Welsch, Anthony. 2011 http://archive.wbir.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=170845

 

Comparing the Lehigh Tunnel in Pennsylvania with the CGT

The Lehigh tunnel in Pennsylvania

The Lehigh Tunnel carries interstate I-476 under Blue Mountain in Pennsylvania. It’s part of the northeast extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Although the original single tunnel was dug in the 1950’s, the southbound passage of Lehigh Tunnel was tunneled in the early 90s, the same time period as Cumberland Gap Tunnel.

The southbound passage of Lehigh Tunnel is an ideal tunnel to do a side-by-side analysis with as it was built approximately in the same time period and is almost as long as the CGT at close to 4400 feet. (The CGT is 4600 feet.)

Local newspaper article about the Lehigh Tunnel

Comparing the Lehigh Tunnel with the Cumberland Gap Tunnel

And the contract goes to…(the bidding process…or lack thereof)

Lehigh Tunnel- open, transparent bidding process where the contract was awarded to the low bidder, a company out of Chicago. Find the article here.

Cumberland Gap Tunnel- I find no record of a bidding process or how it was determined to award the contract for CGT to Parsons Brinckerhoff, worldwide leader in D.U.M.B. base design

 

Cost per structure
(keep in mind the figures for the Lehigh Tunnel are for a single tunnel vs the double tunnel at Cumberland Gap- this is accounted for in the analysis)

  • Lehigh Tunnel– $37.8 million dollars plus an additional $10 million for the portals, a total cost of $47.8 million for one tunnel
  • Cumberland Gap Tunnel-$280 million for two tunnels, or, $140 million per tunnel

The Cumberland Gap Tunnel cost $100 million more dollars per tunnel to build than the Lehigh Tunnel, for approximately the same distance.

Why?

I am sure the tunnel contractors would tell you “tunnels are like snowflakes- no two are the same”- and therefore you cannot predict the obstacles or ease one might encounter when tunneling. Fair enough.

But note the current proposal on the table for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission: do away with the tunnels completely and cut a road over the mountains. A consultant to the Turnpike Commission stated, “Annual maintenance costs for a tunnel would exceed…several times what an open highway segment would cost.”

We already had a highway over Cumberland Gap. If the consensus by industry professionals is that a road over a mountain can be safely traveled by tens of thousands of people and save untold millions of dollars in the long run, why did the Feds do away with ours? Why wasn’t our highway widened at a fraction of the cost to taxpayers, making it a safe, viable route over the Gap?

 

Security and surveillance

  • Lehigh Tunnel– state-of-the-art 360-degree view IPIX security cameras/ surveillance systems ARE NOT installed in the tunnel
  • Cumberland Gap Tunnel-outfitted with Oak Ridge-based company’s IPIX “Photobubble” security cameras at several locations at both north and south approaches to the tunnel as well as inside the tunnel spaced approximately 10-15 feet apart. This is a total of between 100-200 security cameras in operation at Cumberland Gap Tunnel. The IPIX company has direct ties to the Oak Ridge nuclear complex (see post here).

Hazmat Escorts and Restrictions

  • Lehigh Tunnel– hazmat trucks prohibited so there are no tunnel escorts while traffic waits
  • Cumberland Gap Tunnel-all hazmat materials permitted except explosives. Hazmat material permitted inside tunnel includes radioactive material.  The tunnel must pay the cost of several employees to run the hazmat “checkpoints”.

This is the one part of the equation that I’m having trouble reconciling. If there is sensitive equipment or a military installation that they are protecting from terrorist attack, why not just prohibit all hazmat traffic (and therefore potential ‘weapons’)?

One answer could lie in the fact Highway 25E is a “nuclear highway”, or a designated route for hauling radioactive materials through less populated areas to lower the general public’s exposure risk. Below is a screenshot taken from the WIPP Transportation Program that shows not only is Cumberland Gap Tunnel located on a preferred route for nuclear transport, but the route is designated an HRCQ route.

Screen shot 2015-02-08 at 10.06.03 AM

What is an HRCQ route? From Oak Ridge Associated Universities online library:

A “Highway Route Controlled Quantity” (HRCQ) requires Type B packaging, and has certain highway routing limitations and requirements (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations).

The HRCQ applies to the content of a single package – not to the sum of contents of all packages, i.e., in a shipment which exceeds: (1) 3000 times the A1 value of the radionuclide as specified in §173.435 for special form Class 7 material; or (2) 3000 times the A2 value of the radionuclide as specified in §173.435 for normal form Class 7 materials; or (3) 1000 TBq (27,000 Curies), whichever is least.

In other words, the really dangerous, most highly radioactive shipments are sent down Highway 25E through Cumberland Gap Tunnel.

If the contents of the package being shipped are determined to be a HRCQ, the package must be transported under specific routing controls: (a) The carrier must operate on “preferred routes” that conform to §397.101(b) of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

An educated guess is the tunnel was built because 25E is a nuclear highway. They needed a safer route for their enriched uranium coming from the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion plant down Corridor B to Oak Ridge. It wasn’t to benefit our community like they espoused.

And heck, if you’re already letting the worst of the worst radioactive material through, what’s it hurt to let the gasoline tankers go through as well?

Cargo bays and mysterious passageways leading under the mountain

  • Lehigh Tunnel– No.
  • Cumberland Gap Tunnel– Yes

Parsons Brinckerhoff: a worldwide leader in deep underground military base design…and the contractor behind Cumberland Gap Tunnel.

PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF IS A RENOWNED DESIGNER OF UNDERGROUND MILITARY BUNKERS LIKE RAVEN ROCK AND NORAD. WAS THIS EXPERTISE PUT TO USE DURING THE CONSTRUCTION OF CUMBERLAND GAP TUNNEL?

In the 2010 Parsons Brinckerhoff publication “Tunneling to the Future” the company states (page 15):

During the Cold War, PB pioneered methods for the creation of large underground spaces for military fortresses. The firm’s work in this area began in the late 1940s with the design of a hardened underground defense facility at Fort Ritchie, in the Catoctin Mountains near Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and culminated in the early 1960s with NORAD (North American Air Defense Command Center), an underground cavern deep within Cheyenne Mountain outside Colorado Springs, Colorado, comprising six huge chambers and several tunnels designed to sustain nuclear attack. Recently, mined caverns have been designed by PB for construction of transit stations or underground storage.

The history of Parsons Brinckerhoff shows they can and will operate in utmost secrecy and will even employ deception to hide the installations they are constructing. In their publication “Parsons Brinckerhoff Through the Years: 1885 to 2012” the company writes about their leading role in the construction of Raven Rock Mountain Complex, a military nuclear bunker near Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania, known as the “underground Pentagon”:

https://www.pbworld.com/book_pub_history/files/assets/basic-html/page84.html

We started design in 1948, under which time the project was under very tight security clearance…we did not even tell our families what we were doing. Once construction started and tunnel muck had to be deposited outside, it was obvious that something very important was under way [sic]. And the fiction that it was a mining operation could not be very long maintained.

That was 1948. It’s logical to assume this billion dollar company’s adeptness at concealing their activities grew with time (and technological advances).

But Parsons Brinckerhoff is not only a deep underground military base contractor- they also design subway tunnels, bridges and other public transportation systems like high speed rail projects.

the lead engineer at NORAD, Thomas R. Kuesel, was also the lead engineer at Cumberland Gap Tunnel

Kuesel’s most important job at NORAD was to design a way to reinforce rock to withstand nuclear attack. It is quite noteworthy that the same engineer responsible for the integrity of one of the United States’ most strategic underground command centers was later sent to work on a simple twin tunnel bore through a mountain for a highway that runs through small towns and villages. A highway that sees significantly less traffic than I-75, which is 45 miles away. Why was it so important that Kuesel be in charge of the Cumberland Gap Tunnel project?

S.A. Healy Inc: The subcontractor at Raven Rock Mountain Complex was also the subcontractor at Cumberland Gap Tunnel

A 1951 newspaper article from Gettysburg TImes indicates S.A. Healy is continuing work on the underground installation known as the “Little Pentagon” despite recently announced cutbacks in defense appropriations.  See “Work Goes On at Little Pentagon ,  Gettysburg Times. November 8, 1951

We already know of Parsons Brinckerhoff’s role in the development of Raven Rock, and the Gettysburg newspaper article proves PB has worked with S.A. Healy before on underground military installations.

Parsons Brinckerhoff’s, S. A. Healy’s, and Kuesel’s involvement in the tunnel construction is not a smoking gun that the tunnel is an underground military installation. Kuesel was involved with hundreds of other projects that had nothing to do with the military or defense, and the same goes for the tunnel subcontractor S.A. Healy. However, it is with certainty and accuracy that we can say the companies chosen for the tunnel construction certainly had the credentials, expertise, technology and prior experience to carry out construction of a deep underground military base in southern Appalachia at Cumberland Gap.