Jonathan Swift’s Long Lost Silver Mine- Found?

A few years ago I got to experience a special secret very few know about in the southeast Kentucky-southwest Virginia-eastern Tennessee region: a very old mine hidden by decades of grown up brush cut into the rock of Cumberland Mountain. I have no idea who owns the property now, but I will re-tell the story as it was told to me by the owner at the time. (Names are changed in the interest of protecting privacy.)

Entrance to possible secret silver mine, hand-dug in the Tennessee-Kentucky-Virginia tri-state region.

The property owner’s neighbor, Cédric, worked the mine decades ago. He claimed there was a seam of silver that was discovered to rise one inch a foot back in the mountain, and the seam went on for miles.

Looking down into the possible secret silver mine. Water prevents passage beyond approximately fifty feet.

The mine was being worked in approximately the 1930’s. Whether the ore being mined was silver or another type of valuable material, it was special enough that the miners placed the ore into wooden boxes before carrying it out of the mine and loading it into covered trucks, as if to keep the material being mined a secret. It was even more mysterious that the covered trucks waited until the cover of night had settled in to travel to their destination, never leaving the mine before midnight.

Inside the secret mine; view of the entrance

One night, the mysterious miners packed up and left without explanation. No one ever came back until approximately 20 years ago, when the owner received a sole request for permission to re-open the mine, a request which he denied.

Cédric, the old neighbor who had worked the mine, was rumored to have possessed a special healing ability. If a person got hurt and was bleeding bad, all someone had to do was tell Cédric and he could stop the bleeding, whether the person was in his presence or not.

We will probably never know if this is a true iron oxide-copper-gold seam.

The owner himself lived in the same valley as a child at the time the mine was being worked. He disclosed that he, his brother and father saw what he reported as a “searchlight in the sky, making a big, wide circle around them.” They witnessed this light several times in the night sky during the 1930s and 1940s.

Is the 2nd Missing Phipps Bend Nuclear Reactor Pressure Vessel below the Ozarks?

2nd Missing Phipps Bend NUCLEAR Reactor Pressure Vessel’s Last Known Location: Memphis, TN

Documents indicate Chicago Bridge and Iron Nuclear fabricated the two massive reactor pressure vessels in Memphis Tennessee.  Unit 1 traveled by barge to Knoxville, where it continued on to Phipps Bend in a slow, widely publicized procession. There is video as well as photographic evidence of this event.(1)

We have no proof Unit 2 ever arrived to Phipps Bend.

Other nuclear reactor pressure vessels have travelled less conspicuously by water, not using overland transportation. The Journal News of White Plains New York reported a similar vessel travelled by ship to New Hampshire’s Seabrook nuclear plant. No roads were closed. No powerlines raised. No bridges reinforced. No traffic diverted. No miles of onlookers to gape at the monstrosity as it crawled slowly down the road.(2)

Let’s go back to the last known location of this missing reactor pressure vessel. Unit 2 was being built at North America’s largest waterway- the Mississippi River. The Arkansas River is a major tributary of the Mississippi, and just as easily traversable by barge. The Arkansas River leads straight to the Ozarks and the Ozark National Forest, where there were numerous reports the federal government was building an H-bomb plant there.

The underground topography in the Ozark area is quite similar to that of northeast Tennessee, southwest Virginia, and southeast Kentucky. Karst/limestone landforms, especially caves, many large and miles long, are abundant in the Ozarks.

Consider the follow article written by Inez Robb for Assignment America:

Ozark-cave-discussed-H-bomb

 

There seems to be a universal desire for a better ‘ole [hole] on the part of all us H-(for hapless) creatures in this H-bomb age.

Some people seem to feel this ‘ole has materialized in the Ozarks where a Mr. Lester Dill of Stanton, Mo. and his New York press agents hope, with a million dollar loan from Uncle Sam, to equip Mr. Dill’s 26-mile-long Ozark cave as a refuge.(3)

Another editorial, Our Daily Bread, opines:

our-daily-bread-ozark-cave-h-bomb

Anyone who went through the construction period on the Southwestern Proving Ground here isn’t going to have much stomach for another war plant–however much the state is intrigued by published reports that the government is considering establishing the proposed Hydrogen Bomb plant in the Ozarks.

None of us laymen know a thing about either the Atom or Hydrogen bombs except that the one is an accomplished terror and the other offers promise of being a greater terror yet to come. That’s why they are talking about a location in the Ozarks–there are plenty of caves up there, and caves would be useful in handling a dangerous manufacturing and storage operation such as the hydrogen bomb plant. (4)

Of course, other sites were in the running for this proposed H-bomb plant. It seemed that power generation for the proposed Ozark site was a concern to President Truman:

truman-talks-power-supply-h-bomb-ozarks

President Truman told Arkansas congressmen James Trimble and Wilbur Mills plainly:

…power supply is the determining factor, and to be very blunt about it, there have been some very shortsighted men in your state. They have deliberately held up vital power projects which are now essential for this plant.(5)

By 1952, President Truman was dedicating and touring two new hydroelectric dams in Ozark territory in Northern Arkansas. It would seem any concern with lack of sufficient power for the plant had been more than addressed.(6)

Just as I theorized the official announcement they had chose Alabama as the site for the nation’s future nitrate plant was disinformation to direct attention away from a secret facility at Cumberland Gap, so I wonder if the final announcement that South Carolina would get the H-bomb plant was also disinformation, intended to protect a secret facility located deep in the Ozarks?

TVA Says the Department of Defense Should Help Fund Phipps Bend’s Construction

From The Tennessean, July of 1981:

TVA leader [Charles] Dean said recently he believed the Defense Department should help fund construction of the nuclear plants so the power could [be] used to build atomic submarines.(7)

Did the 2nd missing Phipps Bend RPV ultimately become part of a secret nuclear submarine facility somewhere in northern Arkansas?

I interviewed a former worker for Chicago Bridge and Iron Nuclear, and he confirmed the second vessel was never shipped to Phipps Bend. He thinks it may have been cut up for scrap, but he cannot say for sure. He said at the time, several RPVs were being stored on site in Memphis.(9)

I followed the footsteps of a second Chicago Bridge and Iron Nuclear worker, whose specialty was reactor pressure vessels. One year after the completion of the second Phipps Bend RPV, he left CB&I to perform inspections on a new power plant construction (1982). The name of the plant is not indicated. Then for the next thirty years he is a senior project manager with a large, worldwide nuclear services outfit. The only problem is, this nuclear outfit has no facilities anywhere near this gentleman’s home base: Jonesboro, Arkansas. Jonesboro is approximately 60 miles from the Ozarks.

Interestingly, I found several career listings in Bay, Arkansas, for mechanics to support nuclear weapons security missions. Even though the jobs are listed under Arkansas (not far from Jonesboro), it indicates applicants will be at the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia. The company behind the job listings does not appear to have any facilities in the Bay, Arkansas area. So why are the jobs listed geographically for the Ozark region?

Consider this newspaper article from May of 1942:

submarines-in-mississippi

In July 1951, Congress authorized the first nuclear submarine to be built.

There was already a naval submarine plant accessible to the Mississippi River in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.(8)

Could the Mississippi River and the Ozarks be part of a production line for the construction of naval nuclear submarines? Compartmentalization is key to the success of government defense programs. 1.) Construct the submarines at one location. 2.) Build their power supplies at another. 3.)Store/produce weaponry at another location 4.)The submarine travels down the production line until completed and ultimately sent to its destination.

The idea that there is a supply chain across the eastern United States for our nuclear naval submarines was first presented to me by a colleague. I cannot claim credit for this theory. This colleague went through great hardship attempting to ascertain the truth; understandably, he may not want to return to this research. But he does deserve recognition for this theory, even if I cannot identify him by name. Thank you, W, and I’m very sorry for what you went through.

(1) “Outdoors” by Mark Aldeen. Daily News. March 18, 1977.

(2) “Atomic power protest ends in 180 arrests.” The Journal News. March 10, 1979.

(3) “Ozark cave discussed as an H-Bomb refuge.” St. Petersburg Times. March 22, 1950.

(4) “Our Daily Bread.” Alex Washburn, editor. Hope Star. August 19, 1950.

(5) “Choice of H-Bomb site narrows to three.” The Evening Independent. August 16, 1950.

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

(7) “TVA stall in curbing N-program reported costing $2-$4 billion.” The Tennessean. July 31, 1981.

(8) “Submarines Float Down the Mississippi.” The Montana Standard. May 28, 1942.

(9) Personal phone conversation. Source identity protected. May 17, 2016.

 

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

Elevated Amounts of Chromium and Manganese Found in Gap Creek, Tennessee

There are some eye-raising National Park Service water quality reports from the 1990s concerning Gap Creek, which flows through Cudjo’s Cave (or, Gap Cave).

Chromium was found in the creek in measurements up to 70 ug/L (which is equivalent to 70 parts per billion) between the years 1991 to 1996.(1) This is nearing the EPA’s maximum contaminant level (MCL) for chromium in drinking water, which is 100 ppb.

The National Park service tells us that:

Rivers once flowed through the upper chambers of Gap Cave–and Gap Creek still flows through the lowest level of the cavern. Water flowing from the cavern was used to power several mills and the machinery at the Cumberland Iron Furnace in the 19th century. The creek was dammed inside the cave in the 1800’s to create a reservoir that still supplies the towns of Cumberland Gap and Harrogate, Tennessee with drinking water.(2)

When contaminant levels are approaching the maximum levels set by the EPA, and the water supply is a source of community drinking water, it would be reasonable to expect the continued monitoring of contaminant levels in Gap Creek. However, Jennifer Beeler, the Cumberland Gap National Park’s Resource Management Specialist, indicated the water quality reports stopped when the Tunnel construction ended:

That work was done during the tunnel construction with funding from that particular construction project.  After the tunnel was completed that degree of funding for water quality work was no longer available.  We do basic water quality work each month like e. coli, temp, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, ph, turbidity etc, but that is it right now.(3)

Remember when the Middlesboro Tannery was blamed for chromium found in Yellow Creek? Interestingly, it would have been impossible for the tannery to contaminate Gap Creek:

Gap Creek on the TN side of the park comes from Gap Cave, flows through the town of cumberland Gap than Tiprell and then eventually empties into the Powell River.  Little Yellow Creek in the park goes into Middlesboro, flows into Yellow Creek and then eventually into the Cumberland River.  So the two are not connected at all.(3)

Another possible contaminant of concern in Gap Creek is manganese. Overexposure can be responsible for symptoms similar to Parkinson’s Disease, most notably muscle tremors and other neurological damage. Manganese toxicity can also be misdiagnosed as Lou Gehrig’s disease or multiple sclerosis. Children are especially susceptible to manganese toxicity. Currently, the EPA has established a “health advisory level” of .3 mg/L, or, 3 parts per million. However, in 1996, a report by the EPA,

in developing an oral reference dose for manganese based on dietary intake, mentions an epidemiological study in Greece that showed an increase in neurologic effects such as weakness and fatigue, disturbances in gait, and neuromuscular effects, in people whose drinking water contained 1.6 to 2.3 mg/L.(4)

The water quality reports for Gap Creek, where the communities of Cumberland Gap and Harrogate obtain their drinking water, show up to 210 parts per billion, or, .21 mg/L on December 1, 1991 and 270 parts per billion, or, .27 mg/L, manganese on March 23, 1993.(1)

 

(1) STORET Central Warehouse, EPA.
https://ofmpub.epa.gov/storpubl/storet_wme_pkg.Display_Station?p_station_id=CUGA_CPSU_GC4&p_org_id=11NPSWRD

(2)Cave Handout, National Park Service.
https://www.nps.gov/cuga/learn/nature/upload/cave-handout2.pdf

(3) Email communications, June 23 2015, with Jennifer Beeler, National Park Service.

(4) Drinking Water Notification Level for Managanese, California EPA State Water Resources Control Board.
http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/drinking_water/certlic/drinkingwater/Manganese.shtml

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.”

Second Nuclear Reactor Pressure Vessel Missing from Phipps Bend

first-reactor-pressure-vessel-Phipps-Bend
There are plenty of media accounts of the first reactor pressure vessel’s snail-pace journey to Phipps Bend. There is no photographic evidence the second pressure vessel ever arrived to Phipps Bend.

In April  2015 I published an article about the “Incredible Disappearing Nuclear Reactor” from the Phipps Bend Nuclear Plant in Surgoinsville TN. To recap: in 1980, a 2.3 million pound pressure vessel, the housing in which the nuclear fuel core itself resides, was transported from Knoxville to Phipps Bend over a period of several weeks, the heaviest load ever to travel across Tennessee roads. It took months of preparation to reinforce roads and bridges; when the convoy finally started, roads had to be shut down and power lines lifted for the 100 foot long, 26 foot wide, 30 foot tall load to move through at 3 mph. In other words, you couldn’t miss it.

At some point however, that huge reactor pressure vessel disappeared into thin air.

Now I’ve found a second nuclear reactor pressure vessel that was supposedly transported to Phipps Bend in 1981. It too, is nowhere to be found.

The disconcerting part about the transfer of this second nuclear reactor pressure vessel to Phipps Bend is that there was virtually no media coverage of it. Whereas the first pressure vessel was watched by hundreds of people gathered along the roads, it’s like this one slipped by unnoticed. The first pressure vessel’s voyage was covered in local media: newspaper photos taken, many news articles written, and there was even video coverage.

I’ve found one article about the second pressure vessel in Kingsport’s paper, the Daily News. Here is the June 1981 article in its entirety (click here for link to paper):

Unit-2-on-its-way

Unit 2 on Way

The Reactor Pressure Vessel now en route to Phipps Bend Nuclear plant near Surgoinsville is identical to the one at left, moved the site in 1980. The 92-mile trip by barge and overland for the vessel to be placed in Unit No. 2 of the two-unit nuclear facility began Monday and will take several more days, perhaps another week, to complete.

That’s it. Not even a picture of the event or the RPV itself. To add insult to injury, a photo of the first pressure vessel reactor was used for the story. Note the time of transport, ‘several more days, perhaps another week,’ is a substantially shortened amount of time for the vessel to reach its destination compared to the amount of time it took the first pressure vessel to arrive. Quite simply, it was a ghost when it arrived, and it was a ghost when it left. No photos. No video. Seemingly no eyewitnesses.

One of these pressure vessels were transferred to Dewberry and Davis, who claim they don’t know what happened to it. Below is a link to the only document the TVA FOIA officer could find relating to the sale, disposal or other transfer of the vessel.

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

I will rephrase the original question:

How do you make two, 2.3 million pound nuclear reactor pressure vessels, disappear into thin air?

Update: Chicago Bridge and Iron worker confirms 2nd reactor vessel never shipped to Phipps Bend proving the above newspaper article was disinformation.

 

Nuclear waste from Three Mile Island dumped in KY?

The Middlesboro Tanning Company and Yellow Creek

Back in the eighties, a Middlesboro, Kentucky tannery that processed leather hides was under fire as perpetrators of massive pollution in Yellow Creek.

A Middlesboro Daily News article dated April 8, 1990, “Yellow Creek: Microcosm of environmental movement,” states high levels of chromium were found in the creek bed of Yellow Creek in 1987:

A study by a University of Louisville chemist discovered the pockets of chromium, a byproduct of the tannery process that can cause cancer.

and

Three health studies of  [Yellow] creek residents investigated elevated rates of cancer, leukemia and intestinal problems. (1)

Chromium use in the Middlesboro Tannery began in 1965. Dr. Lorann Stallones research, “Final Report on Cancer Mortality in Bell County 1979-1985” indicates

Two studies performed in the early 1980’s reported waste waters flowing through and being discharged from the [sewage treatment plant] were highly toxic to aquatic life….the actual cause of toxicity was not determined….(13)

The first study (that I can find) that shows deposits of chromium in Yellow Creek occurred in 1984, coincidentally after the Three Mile Island cleanup began:

Settleable solids deposited in Yellow Creek were shown to contain chromium, copper, nickel, lead and zinc. (13)

In defense of the Middlesboro Tanning Co.,

Dirk Anderson, manager of the Middlesboro Tannery Co. , says it ‘has done an excellent job in meeting state and federal guidelines’ and ‘installed the most efficient pretreatment system in the tanning industry today’. (15)

Could the federal government have asked the tannery to accept contaminated water from Three Mile Island under the pretense the tannery’s pretreatment system could handle it? Remember- the tannery’s pretreatment system was designed to deal with chromium in the wastewater. Did officials think it could also “pretreat” the chromium from the contaminated water at Three Mile Island? If so, were Middlesboro officials aware of it as well? Remember, there had never been a nuclear disaster of this proportion before Three Mile Island. I could just imagine the panic, and mistakes that most likely were made.

Or, could the chromium in Yellow Creek possibly have trickled out of Cumberland Mountain from buried nuclear waste? Research carried out by Zachara et al. tells us this very thing occurred at another nuclear facility where waste was being stored, the Hanford nuclear site:

Chromate (hexavalent chromium as CrO42-) is a significant groundwater contaminant at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Hanford Site in southeastern WA.

and

Chromate in ground water is readily transported through flood deposits…resulting in groundwater contamination plumes…”(2)

Interestingly, there continues to be elevated amounts of chromium in the eastern Kentucky water supply, even after the environmental cleanup of the tannery and Yellow Creek. This is evidenced in the Division of Water’s report, “Potentials for Levels of Arsenic and Chromium in Drinking Water Contribute to the Higher Cancer Rates Found in Eastern Kentucky as Compared to the Rest of the State.”(11)

Sobering data from the Environmental Protection Agency shows elevated levels of chromium in Gap Creek and its tributaries within the town of Cumberland Gap as well as the National Park. See STORET’s data here.

In addition to the the continuing presence of chromium found in the creeks, tributaries and water supply,  a nuclear waste site upstream would explain the sicknesses reported by those living downstream: eerily, they match the same ailments as radiation poisoning.  The National Institutes of Health states:

The bone marrow and gastrointestinal tract are especially sensitive to radiation injury…(3)

The Center for Environmental Health studies continues:

Strong evidence has been recorded of a possible connection between forms of leukemia and exposure to ionizing radiation. …These findings are consistent with the National Research Council’s determination that radiation can cause acute leukemia and chronic myeloid leukemia.

In a Los Alamos Science piece, “Low-level radiation: How harmful is it?” author Roger Eckhardt points out

Nearly all tissues and organs of the human body are susceptible to radiation-induced cancer….Leukemia was at one time thought to be the principal type of radiation-induced cancer; however, solid cancers, such as lung, breast, and thyroid cancers, are the more numerous result…(4)

Remember the Department of Defense sponsored lung cancer study?

In 2011, Arnold and her colleagues were awarded a $1.43 million grant by the Department of Defense to study potential environmental reasons — such as trace elements in soil or water — for the high lung cancer rates in Eastern Kentucky.

“We know that tobacco is the number one cause of lung cancer, but that isn’t the only factor causing the high cancer burden for southeastern Kentucky,” Arnold said. “So we started to look for other possible reasons. Could environmental carcinogens play a role?”(12)

A coincidence that cannot be ignored: the timing of the Cumberland Gap Tunnel construction in relation to the Three Mile Island incident.

March 28, 1979– Three Mile Island experiences partial meltdown of Unit 2’s reactor core

October 1979– Although Congress approved the construction of Cumberland Gap Tunnel in 1973, funds were not authorized until October 1979.

July 1980– the first time personnel were able to venture inside the Three Mile Island reactor building.

1981-1985- Officials, with the help of Oak Ridge National Laboratories, must remove the “high (radio)activity level water (HALW) at TMI-2” which “includes approximately 2650 in3 (700,000 gal) of contaminated water in the floor of the Reactor Containment Building (CB) and approximately 340 m3 (90,000 gal) of circulating cooling water that remains in the closed-loop Reactor Primary Coolant System” (14)

October 1985– Five years later, fuel removal from the melted core of Three Mile Island Unit 2 can begin.

December 1985– a 10 foot x 10 foot pilot bore is in progress under Cumberland Mountain in order “to incorporate data” for engineers in charge of the tunnel project.

July 1986– Off-site shipment of reactor core debris from Three Mile Island begins.

December 1986– The pilot bore under Cumberland Gap is complete. We know from previous accounts from engineers this initial 10 x 10 tunnel must have intersected the “maze of limestone caverns” located underneath the area of Cumberland Gap which then would afford endless underground storage for any nuclear waste.

1986-1990– cleanup of the Three Mile Island meltdown continues, yet Cumberland Gap Tunnel engineers indicate in spring 1987 that construction of the main corridors of Cumberland Gap Tunnel will not begin until 1989 (8).    Even more noteworthy is the notice to proceed was issued even later: February of 1991 (see pdf file here). If nuclear, even transuranic waste from TMI-2 was being buried under Cumberland Mountain, the pilot bore permitted access under the mountain to the limestone caverns; this must be why the main tunnel corridors were not started until four years after the initial bore. I am confident the matching dates are more than a coincidence.

August 1993– Processing of radioactive, contaminated water from Three Mile Island is complete. This would include the transuranic sludge that must be disposed. Schmitt et al. states in “Historical Summary of the Three Mile Island Unit 2 Core Debris Transportation Campaign” that

As the cleanup progresses, some waste materials, (e.g., sludges) may be found to be contaminated with transuranics at levels above which commercial low-level [radiation] burial facilities are authorized to accept. Alternatives….could include archiving, R & D evaluation or temporary storage onsite, or at a DOE facility awaiting further processing and/or disposal in a permanent repository offsite. (5) page 234

December 1993–  monitoring of Three Mile Island stored waste begins.
Both main corridors of the Cumberland Gap Tunnel are completed.

*The timeline for the Three Mile Island cleanup can be found at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s website here.(9)

What is transuranic waste?

Transuranic waste, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is

Material contaminated with artificially made, radioactive elements, such as neptunium, plutonium, americium, and others—that have atomic numbers higher than uranium…. (6)

The EPA states

Some TRU waste consists of items such as rags, tools, and laboratory equipment contaminated with radioactive materials. Other forms of TRU waste include organic and inorganic residues or even entire enclosed contaminated cases in which radioactive materials were handled…(7)

Transuranic waste is not considered low-level radioactive waste.

Taking Possession of The Nuclear Waste from Three Mile Island

The Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory took possession of the core debris. (5) ch 2, p 2. We know the cleanup contractors and General Public Utilities used evaporative measures to remove as much of the contaminated water as possible.(9)  But we don’t know what happened to the rest of the radioactive waste, especially the more deadly transuranic sludge and materials:

The accident’s radioactive waste was shipped off-site to an appropriate disposal area…(9)

but the NRC doesn’t tell us where.

If Yellow Creek is carrying chromium in its waters from Cumberland Mountain, it can only be coming from the Dark Ridge area:

…the valley of Yellow Creek at the end of Dark Ridge, a spur from the main Cumberland Mountain…(10)

The final piece of evidence I have that supports my theory that southeast Kentucky and Cumberland Gap was sacrificed as a nuclear waste dump is this: the military industrial complex contractor who was put in charge of the Three Mile Island cleanup was none other than Oak Ridge-based and the DOE’s primary contractor, Bechtel Corporation.

Evidence is circumstantial but heavily suggests that the Cumberland Gap region of southeast Kentucky and East Tennessee was a repository for radioactive waste from the Three Mile Island meltdown. The chromium in the creeks: the cancers and sickness… identical to those who have been exposed to radiation in a nuclear setting. Undeniably, the timeline for the Cumberland Gap Tunnel construction matches perfectly with the Three Mile Island cleanup. Then Bechtel, a local, primary contractor for the Department of Energy, becomes responsible for the plant’s cleanup. The pieces of the puzzle fit.

At this point I am pleading for help from the professional community. Scientists, chemists, geologists, doctors…whoever would come to my town and do a comprehensive study of my area to determine if our soaring rates of cancer and connective tissue disease could be related to radiation exposure. The people of southeast Kentucky have been carpetbagged and took advantage of by government entities and conglomerates and corporations for two hundred years.

I have had enough.

These people and their children deserve better. Will you help?

 (1) “Yellow Creek: Microcosm of environmental movement.” Middlesboro Daily News; Wells, Rob: April 8, 1990

(2) “Chromium Speciation and Mobility in a High Level Nuclear Waste Vadose Zone Plume.” Zachara et. al, March 2004

(3) “Radiation Sickness.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

(4) “Low-level radiation: How harmful is it?” Roger Eckhardt, Los Alamos Science, 1981

(5) “Historical Summary of the Three Mile Island Unit 2 Core Debris Transportation Campaign”.  Schmitt, Quinn, and Tyacke, 1993

(6) U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission website

(7) Environmental Protection Agency, Radiation Protection, Transuranic Waste.

(8) “Contracts seen for Cumberland Gap Tunnel.” Kentucky New Era, March 5 1987

(9) “Backgrounder on the Three Mile Accident.” U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission website

(10) 1869-1870 Annual Report. Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company

(11) “Potentials for Levels of Arsenic and Chromium in Drinking Water Contribute to the Higher Cancer Rates Found in Eastern Kentucky as Compared to the Rest of the State.” Commonwealth of Kentucky, Energy and Environmental Protection Cabinet, Department for Environmental Protection and Division of Water. June 2013

(12) “Tracing Lung Cancer in Appalachian Kentucky.” K. Bowman. July 2013, University of Kentucky

(13) “Final Report on Cancer Mortality in Bell County 1979-1985”. Lorann Stallones, PhD. MPH, August 1988

(14) “Evaluation of the Submerged Demineralizer System (SDS) Level Water at the Three Mile Island Unit 2 Nuclear Power Station” Campbell, Collins, King, and Knauer. July 1980

(15) “Yellow Creek: Grassroots environmentalism at work.” Rob Wells, The Times-News, October 5 1990

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

 

How a nun helped prove the nuclear weapons labs have left Oak Ridge

Did you hear about the 80 year-old nun who broke into Oak Ridge with bolt cutters? No, this isn’t a joke.

Consider the glaring examples from this incident that bolsters support for the theory the nuclear weapons laboratories in Oak Ridge have been relocated:

An 80-year old nun, and two men, 63 years-old and 57-years-old, cut their way through the fences and spent hours on the Y-12 facility grounds before finally being arrested.

This is supposed to be the only facility in the United States where weapons-grade uranium is processed and stored. This is some of the most radioactive material on earth.

Clearly neither the NNSA (National Nuclear Safety Administration), NSA, CIA nor the Department of Homeland Security were very concerned about the Y-12 breach. In fact one report stated the trio did trigger security sensors- but these organizations have no answer why the intruders weren’t stopped.

From the Reuters article:

Barfield [spokeswoman for the activists] forwarded a statement from the group in which it said the activists had passed through four fences and walked for “over two hours” before reaching the uranium storage building, on which they hung banners and strung crime-scene tape.

From CNN:

Hours later, the three activists were finally confronted by a guard after hoisting banners, spray-painting messages and splattering human blood on a building that houses highly enriched uranium.

Hours later. Let that sink in. Weapons grade uranium and they are there for hours before a lone guard finally arrests them. Does that make any sense?

I have an answer why they weren’t stopped: there is very little security because I believe there is no weapons-grade uranium there. Why spend resources protecting empty buildings? You wouldn’t, especially as cash-strapped and debt-laden as our government is. It is the only thing that makes sense.

The breach occurred on a Friday. The facility was finally locked down almost five days later, on Wednesday. What took so long?

Someone finally realized, maybe they should act a little more concerned, otherwise, people might figure out there wasn’t anything left there to guard. So almost five days later, they decided to get grave and concerned, temporarily shuttering the plant. From the Reuters article cited above:

“We’re taking this very, very seriously,” added Steve Wyatt, a spokesman for the NNSA office in Oak Ridge, which supervises the activities of Y-12 contractors.

Sure you are, Steve. Sure you are.

Consider this: it’s after the terrorist attacks of 9-11. You are building a new weapons-grade uranium processing facility. You have two choices:
  1. Will you build the new facility aboveground on a campus that everyone already considers the nucleus of nuclear weapon building?
  2. Or are you going to put the facility underground, inside the mountain miles away from where everyone believes it is?

It’s a no-brainer. If data centers are sensitive enough to be put underground post 9-11, then you can bet our nuclear weapons program has gone underground too:

On the demand side, an increase in extreme weather events, heightened concerns about security since 9/11 and the need to provide higher levels of security…have made these spaces more attractive to some organizations. Underground facilities offer security and structural protections that would be cost prohibitive to build from scratch.

A multinational security firm provided the security for the Y-12 site, not the U.S. military.

Multinational security firm G4S, the contractor at the time, had offices in China, Russia, and India, among other places, at the same time they were supposedly guarding our nation’s nuclear weapon complex.

Do you really think our nation’s national nuclear security rests on a company with interests in China and Russia? I hope we haven’t gotten that gullible yet. Again, the simpler answer is, there is no sensitive nuclear weapons building, uranium enrichment or storage going on at the Y-12 site.

Very little media coverage of the security breach at the “nuclear Fort Knox”

An eighty year-old nun breaking into the Y-12 Oak Ridge nuclear complex is a significantly newsworthy event. Yet there was such little media coverage of the event that people in surrounding communities hadn’t even heard of the incident. From Greg Mitchell’s “Nun, Two Others, Sentenced to Prison for Incident at Oak Ridge Nuclear Site“:

There was very little coverage of the trial itself, nothing like the Harrisburg case received four decades ago, and the Knoxville local news and the AP, in their reporting, kept referring to the defendants as the Y-12 trespassers, not the Oak Ridge 3, thereby de-nationalising the case.

Why did they de-nationalize the case and control what the media reported and how much air time the story received? To keep people from realizing the nuclear weapons complex had been moved, like the evidence seems to support.

I am not the sharpest tool in the tool shed. But if I can figure out there’s a real chance our nuclear weapons program has been relocated, I am confident our enemies have already figured it out, too. That means there is a community somewhere close that is now a target…and they don’t even know it.

What’s most disconcerting is this community is at risk of radiation as well as beryllium exposure without their knowledge or consent. (Beryllium is a rare earth metal crucial to the nuclear industry. Although it is not radioactive, in certain persons even the tiniest exposure can be fatal.)  People have/had a choice to live and/or work in Oak Ridge. The people where this weapons-grade uranium is now being stored, do not.

Could it be the reason our lung cancer rates and cancer rates in general are so much higher in the 5th Congressional District than the rest of Kentucky, even though smoking habits are the same?