A team of scientists is descending on a former nuclear test site in the Aleutians on Monday to search for damage from a massive earthquake.
Mark Kautsky oversees Amchitka for the Office of Legacy Management at the U.S. Department of Energy.
Kautsky says they weren’t supposed to visit the island for another two years. Then, a 7.9 quake struck pretty close to the old nuclear sites in June:
“Like 25 miles north of the island. It’s actually also 70 miles below the surface,” Kautsky says. “So we don’t expect that there was any deformation in the area under the island.”
And that means, probably no release of radioactive material. Since the last detonation at Amchitka in the early ‘70s, there haven’t been any leaks detected in the marine environment.
But this earthquake might have shifted things above ground. The island holds seven cells full of drilling mud from the nuclear tests — all contaminated with diesel fuel.