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Interview with Elmer Jesse Sowder, June 23, 2004


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Narrator affiliation: Test Director, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Access note: Audio temporarily sealed

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Sowder, Elmer Jesse. Interview, 2004 June 23. MS-00818. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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Nevada Test Site Oral History Project University of Nevada, Las Vegas Interview with Elmer Sowder June 23, 2004 Las Vegas, Nevada Interview Conducted By Mary Palevsky © 2007 by UNLV Libraries Oral history is a method of collecting historical information through recorded interviews conducted by an interviewer/ researcher with an interviewee/ narrator who possesses firsthand knowledge of historically significant events. The goal is to create an archive which adds relevant material to the existing historical record. Oral history recordings and transcripts are primary source material and do not represent the final, verified, or complete narrative of the events under discussion. Rather, oral history is a spoken remembrance or dialogue, reflecting the interviewee’s memories, points of view and personal opinions about events in response to the interviewer’s specific questions. Oral history interviews document each interviewee’s personal engagement with the history in question. They are unique records, reflecting the particular meaning the interviewee draws from her/ his individual life experience. Produced by: The Nevada Test Site Oral History Project Departments of History and Sociology University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 89154- 5020 Director and Editor Mary Palevsky Principal Investigators Robert Futrell, Dept. of Sociology Andrew Kirk, Dept. of History The material in the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project archive is based upon work supported by the U. S. Dept. of Energy under award number DEFG52- 03NV99203 and the U. S. Dept. of Education under award number P116Z040093. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these recordings and transcripts are those of project participants— oral history interviewees and/ or oral history interviewers— and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U. S. Department of Energy or the U. S. Department of Education. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 1 Interview with Elmer Sowder June 23, 2004 Conducted by Mary Palevsky Table of Contents Introduction: Mr. Sowder reviews his military service in World War II, college education, and employment at the Pantex Ordnance Plant. 1 Mr. Sowder begins work at the Nevada Test Site in 1951. He then transfers to Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in 1957. 3 Security concerns influence life and work at the test site. The secretive nature of the Groom Lake facility— Area 51 even for test site workers with Q clearance. 6 The Smoky test shock wave behaves differently than anticipated. 8 Test director Robert Campbell serves as a mentor for Mr. Sowder. 11 Accidents and injuries that occurred in Area 25, reactor test area. 13 Explanation of different “ sides” and areas of the NTS, Robert Campbell made the stained glass maps for Mr. Sowder and his late wife, Jeanie for retirement. 20 Mr. Sowder explains the responsibilities and duties of a test director, as well as the different tasks related to weapons design and reactor experimentation, Los Alamos J- Division. 23 Involvement in the test program shaped Mr. Sowder’s views regarding nuclear weapons policy. He believes that the Nevada Test Site played an important role in deterring a major war. 25 Mr. Sowder narrates a photographs depicting various nuclear tests, certificates and aspects of the test site displayed in his home. 28 Conclusion: Mr. Sowder narrates photographs of his family, medals and mementos from his military service in World War II also displayed in home. 35 UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 1 Interview with Elmer Sowder June 23, 2004 in Las Vegas, NV Conducted by Mary Palevsky [ 00: 00: 21] End Track 1, Disk 1. Interview was recorded on audio and video. Mary Palevsky: OK, so in 1942 you’re at Texas A& M? Elmer Sowder: Right. And in late ‘ 42, early ‘ 43, I got a draft notice. So I decided I didn’t want to be a foot soldier, I didn’t want to slog through the mud. Turns out that’s exactly what I did most of the time, but so be it. So I went down to the recruiting office— well, the first thing, right after Pearl Harbor I went into the Army Air Corps recruiting office, told them I wanted to fly. Well, they wrote me down and signed me up and set me up for a physical, and a couple of weeks later I got a phone call, Come in to see us. And this doctor, he says, Elmer, you’re in good physical condition but you have one big problem. Your depth perception is not good and, he said, we don’t want you landing a plane fifty feet in the air. So I didn’t get to go fly, at least at that time. So then I went down the street to the Navy- Marine recruiting and signed up for the Marines. And so they put me through all the rigmarole and then they sent me to El Paso to actually get sworn in and assigned to a boot camp. So I started in the Marines in early ‘ 43, mid-‘ 43, went to boot camp. And when I’d left college I was on probation because I was not doing very well. College at that time was not interesting to me. It was a place to try to have a good time. So I was on probation. So when I came out of the service, I finally got to go back to [ Texas] A& M. But I was on probation, so I had to pass what they called “ twelve- twelve probation.” Twelve hours, twelve grade points. My first semester had to be that or I couldn’t go back to stay in school. So I went in UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 2 there and did that. I managed to pass the probation and ended up— well, it took me ten years to get out of college. I graduated from high school in ‘ 40 and I graduated from college in ‘ 50. Right. Well, you had this little thing called World War II get in your way. Well, a little interference, yes. Well, I was not the best student in the world. However, one of my problems in the early days was physics. I could not— they had probably one of the best physics professors there could be, but he was a strict disciplinarian and his tests would be the old mimeographed half- a- dozen questions or so and a blank over to the right for the answer. And if you didn’t get that answer— it didn’t make any difference how you went about it— if you didn’t get the right answer, you didn’t succeed. So I flunked his physics course the first semester that I took it, but when I came back on probation I took physics again. But I didn’t get the same instructor, and it was obvious I had learned some physics from the first instructor. He was a Briton, English, and it was one of these things, you know, he didn’t believe in six weeks examinations; he believed that you go for half a year or whatever and you take an exam. If you passed, you can go ahead. After the next series of lectures and all, he gives you another test. If you pass that, you can go ahead. So I learned a lot of physics from him but didn’t realize it at the time. So when I came back on probation, took the physics, straight A in physics. So I passed my probation. And at that time, of course my father was still working for the Santa Fe Railroad out of Amarillo, Texas, and in summers I would go— he helped get me a job with the field engineering people at the Santa Fe [ Railroad]. So when I graduated from college he asked me, he said, [ 00: 05: 00] Do you want to continue to work for the railroad? I said, I don’t know. I’ll go talk to them. So I did, and they made me an offer of a permanent job, out in the field most of the time, and at the same time Silas Mason had come into Amarillo and was doing UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 3 the design work for remodeling Pantex, so I went out and applied to them as a young graduate engineer, applied to them for a job. They came back with an offer which was much better than what the railroad would offer me, so I went to work for Silas Mason at Pantex plant. I don’t remember if we got into it a whole lot last time, but what kinds of stuff was happening at Pantex then, right after—? They were remodeling— see, that Pantex plant built five- hundred- pound bombs during World War II. So this was a remodel job. Of course none of us knew what we were remodeling for. There was a lot of speculation that it must be cups for flying saucers and all that kind of stuff. But they were remodeling for the atomic weapons, is that right? Right. They were remodeling to do what it does today, or what it did today. And then one day my boss at that time came in and he asked me if I would be willing to come and go to Las Vegas, because Silas Mason had gotten the architect- engineering contract out here [ at the Nevada Test Site and they wanted to set up an office. So they were looking for young people to come out and help them set up the engineering office out here. So I said sure, I’d go to Las Vegas. I didn’t know what Las Vegas was, other than it was in the middle of the desert. Yes. Do you remember your boss’s name at that time at Silas Mason? No. No, I sure don’t. I’ve probably got some paper in the file somewhere that might give me a clue but— OK. That’s all right. That’s the kind of thing we can look up later. But I came out, they sent me out here, and they said, Well, it’ll only be for like six months. We’ll have an office set up and then, they said, you’ll probably come back here. Well, that was in, I’m trying to get the year straight. Nineteen fifty- one? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 4 Nineteen fifty- one, for a six months’ tour of duty, and I’ve been here ever since. Wow. And you retired from your position in 1990, is that right? Yes, but I worked for Silas Mason from ‘ 51 to ‘ 57. Actually ‘ 55. And at that time Silas Mason lost the contract. At that time they were setting up the— REECo [ Reynolds Electrical and Engineering Company] had come in, in like ‘ 52 or ‘ 53, and they were setting up an engineering department. I was a charter member of the REECo engineering department. So I just— since my family was here at the time and I didn’t particularly want to leave, I just went to REECo. Worked for REECo from ‘ 55 to ‘ 57, and then I got a call from Bob Newman in Los Alamos who was J- 6 group leader at that time, and asking me if I wanted to come to work for the lab. I said Sure, so they paid for my trip back to Los Alamos for an interview. And I went back to Los Alamos, and flew in the little planes from Albuquerque up to Los Alamos, and interviewed, and came back to Las Vegas, and got a call again, or a notice from the lab that I had been hired and the salary they were going to pay me. And Newman told me, he says, Don’t you dare move from Las Vegas, he said, because I intend to put you to work at the test site, which he did. First job I had was out there at the [ Project] Rover reactor testing area. Yes. What was your position at Los Alamos at that time? Engineer. Staff member, is what they call it. It was part of the University of California but the designation [ 00: 10: 00] was staff member. And that was part of my very fortunate life. Bob [ Robert] Newman— of course I guess I did a job for him— he took care of me. I got promotions and salary increases, and I probably didn’t deserve them all but I was sure glad to get them. But then I worked out here from— I was working at the reactor test area from ‘ 59— I’ll have to stop and think, I’m not sure of the years. But anyway I was living here in town and working at the test site, commuting back and forth, and in those days there were no buses. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 5 Oh, I was going to just ask— This was you commuted on your own, carpools or whatever. And I was working on a fifty- four- hour week, which meant I was getting a lot of overtime, I was getting per diem because I was on assignment out here. And Bill Ogle, who was the J- Division leader at that time, as he [ was] going through the records one day, he looked and he saw— here’s this guy— he didn’t know me from Adam, but he looked at the records and he said, Here’s this guy getting per diem, living at home, and working a fifty- four- hour week. And he told Newman, he said, We got to change that. He said, Bring him back to Los Alamos. So they moved me— this was ‘ 59 when they moved me back to Los Alamos. Of course they paid all the expenses. They paid to move me, move the family, move furniture, all that. They took care of that. So after that I was employed at Los Alamos. And before we moved, my family was still here and I was working in Los Alamos. At that time I had an old ‘ 49 Oldsmobile. Beautiful car, four hundred horsepower engine and it would really run. So I would leave Los Alamos at five o’clock on a Friday afternoon, drive straight through to Las Vegas, get there on Saturday morning sometime, and stay in Las Vegas with the family until Sunday evening, and then I’d do the reverse. I’d leave here about five o’clock in the afternoon and drive straight through to Los Alamos and go to work at eight o’clock in the morning. Oh, when your family was still here. Wow. OK. The family was still here. Yes, this was before we officially moved. Right. Can I go back for a second to this rocket work that you were doing originally? That’s the original work you do for Los Alamos? The reactor? Yes. That was the reactor to power the rocket, is that correct? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 6 That’s right. The goal at that time was to develop a nuclear reactor that would fly into outer space so that they could use it as an engine and an engine to fly to outer space. We did a lot of reactor testing out there, and they built a multimillion dollar engine test stand out there, thinking that they would eventually set up an engine and test it on this test stand, but it never got that far. Yes. Do you remember what the problems were or—? No, I probably wasn’t on a level to really know what the problems were, or have a need to know. That was a lot of the— at that time there was a lot of this need- to- know bit. You don’t— you can have a clearance but there are certain things that if you don’t need to know, you aren’t going to find out. Right. I think that’s one of the confusions there is about the Q- clearance. People then assumed if you had it, you could know everything, but that wasn’t the case. That wasn’t the case. And you couldn’t go everywhere either? Well, they designated certain areas. In the early days with Los Alamos, my badges had numbers on them which indicated the areas that I was able to go into, like the CP [ control point], like up [ 00: 15: 00] to Area 12, certain areas. But of course also Area 51, although officially with the Air Force it doesn’t exist, Area 51 came into service at that time. In fact, at night we used to see the shadow of the U- 2 as it was flying over the test site. Of course we didn’t know what the heck it was, but we saw this big plane flying over the test site, and it was the U- 2 that they were developing or testing out of Area 51. And is that correct that if I look at a map now, it looks like it’s Area 15 up there to the north, is that— oh, you can show me right on your thing. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 7 Well, it���s up in this area [ pointing to stained glass of NTS]. Area 51. Groom Lake is right off here [ indicating on map] and Area 51 is right up off to the northeast corner of the test site. So to the northeast corner of the test site. But the Air Force, of course they needed a lot of help over there because the DOE [ Department of Energy] or the AEC [ Atomic Energy Commission] had their contractors there. But just because you had a Q- clearance with the AEC didn’t mean you could get a clearance— the Air Force had their own clearance system, and if you didn’t have one of their clearances, you didn’t get near Area 51 or their test area. Yes. So you had an inkling that something was happening there. Well, we knew it was an air base. I mean we knew enough— my first experience with Area 51 was when, I guess this was about when they were doing the Smoky test. They were getting ready to do Smoky, and I guess it may’ve happened when I was going to look for this mining camp or little mining building, but I was driving in the government car across Groom Lake and the Air Force came in and was strafing in front of us. They didn’t come close but it was obvious that the Air Force was there and they were armed. Now, this shows my ignorance. They weren’t strafing at you. They were just doing something. Oh no, they were just telling us that we’re around and don’t get too far ahead, don’t go too much further. Oh, so it was a signal to you— It was a warning. At least we took it as a warning. Yes. Maybe you could tell that story again because when you told it to me earlier this morning, we didn’t have the tape running. About the miner that you had to go see? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 8 Yes. They were doing testing during that period, campaign testing. They would go out in the Pacific and test for one year or test during the year, and then the next year they’d come and test at the test site. And during the time that they were testing in the Pacific, the government would allow some of these little one- horse mining operations, they would allow those people to come in and operate their mine during the off- period of testing. And one of the jobs that I was assigned to was to go up— it was just a wooden building, it was just a wood— it wasn’t a shack. I mean it was a pretty well- built building. My job was to go up there and look at it and see what we could do to protect it from damage from the Smoky test. So we went up there and boarded- up windows, boarded up the doors, did what bracing we thought was necessary, and then they did the Smoky test. So then we had to go back and evaluate what damage was done, and when we went back to look to see if our repair work had done any good, the whole building was gone. It had been blown to pieces. Now was Smoky bigger than expected or it was just that—? No, no. It was just something that people didn’t anticipate. It was on the side of a hill, a seven- hundred- foot tower on the side of a hill, and I guess the initial impression was the blast, the [ 00: 20: 00] effects will all go up or bounce off of the mountain. But it didn’t work that way. The shock wave went over this first hill, got to the hill behind it, and came back. That’s when it got the building. It bounced. It ricocheted. Took the building. Oh, some of us engineers learned something from that. Of course, the whole test site activity was a learning— you learned every time you went to do anything, you learned something. I was going to ask you about Smoky just because I was reading a little bit about it in the flyer you just gave me. What was it about that? It was a tower but there was— UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 9 Seven hundred foot tall. Tallest tower that was ever built on the test site. I mean as far as a weapons tower is concerned. Yes. And that’s also where they had— so the soldiers came in for that. I think they marched some soldiers in for— I think they were around there at that time. Where was that on the test site? Where was Smoky? Was it Frenchman Flat or Yucca Flat? No, it was up in the northern end of the test site. It was way up on the northern end of the test site. Of course, because then it went across the mountain like you explained to me. OK. Yes. Yes. There was a series of rolling hills up there, and they had it on the down slope of one, and then over the top of that hill, beyond it, was another row of hills, and that’s where they got in shock wave trouble. Right. So that was a Los Alamos test, I assume? Smoky? You know, I’m not— I think it was but I’m not sure of that. I was really Silas Mason or REECo engineering. That’s how I first met Bob Campbell, when I was with Silas Mason. We had an office on Main Street in Las Vegas. It’s where Silas Mason had their main office here in town. And Bob Campbell was J- 6 group leader, and he and his crew of people would come in to the office there on Main Street and tell us what their plans were, what they needed built at the test site. And he was just— he was a firm old codger. I mean when he said he wanted something, that meant he wanted it and he didn’t want anybody to tell him he needed something different. So that was my first experience with Bob Campbell. I never had any real problems with him, because when he’d come in and say, I want this, this, and this, we took notes and did what he wanted. Now one of the things— again, a little bit of trivia, but out there in Frenchman UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 10 Flat one time, I was with Silas Mason and J- 6, Bob Campbell or one of his many people, said they wanted an underground bunker built in Frenchman for photographing some of the tests that were going to go on in Frenchman. So we drew the plans on the back of an envelope, literally on the back of an envelope, with elevations and enough information and we handed it to the contractor, which was REECo, or maybe it was REECo’s predecessor, I don’t know. Anyway, we handed this to them and they built this underground concrete— heavy concrete underground bunker. Well, in the spring or later, sometime later, the scientists in J- 6 came out that were going to use the facility. Everything was fine except they had built it on top of the ground instead of burying it like it was supposed to be. It was supposed to be underground. So they ended up just [ 00: 25: 00] destroying that building and went out and built what the scientists wanted on the surface, or underground. Do it. It cost the taxpayers a few dollars. But that was another thing. During the days when we were doing atmospheric testing and building towers out there and building places to lift balloons off with devices on them, money was kind of no object. I mean it was an object but you didn’t worry about it because if you had something that had to be done and you were running short of money, somebody in the AEC would go back to Washington and say, We need some more money, so they’d send some more money out. So it was kind of a blank check operation. Not enough controls, but then it went from one way to the other and eventually got to the point where there were too many controls, but there was a balance finally, I guess. But after Newman left the laboratory and I ended up— well, my first promotion with Newman was as associate group leader, and then from there I went on up to assistant group leader, and then became group leader. And between the two jobs, group leader of J- 6 and test UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 11 director are the two best jobs in the laboratory. And I was fortunate enough to hold both of them at different times. So what’s the relationship then if you’re the group leader of J- 6, are you the group leader of J- 6 at the time that Bob Campbell is the test director, is that right? No. No, those two times didn’t— OK, did not coincide. They didn’t match. I was I guess an associate or an assistant group leader at the time Campbell was test director. Because I asked because I think last time we spoke you were saying how he was your mentor in a sense of how to do that, so I was wondering how that worked. Oh yes. Bob Campbell was my mentor and a good friend. And he was a tough old bird. There was one thing that was absolutely certain with him: Don’t ever lie to him. Don’t ever tell him a falsehood because he’ll find out about it and if he does, you’re in deep trouble. And if you make a mistake, tell him about it. That’s one of the first things I learned about him. When he was test director and I would be out— see, I went back to the weapons testing side in the early sixties— ‘ 62, ‘ 63, somewhere in there— and I was J- 6 and he was test director. And every once in a while he’d call me. He’d be on the test site but he’d call me and he’d say, I saw this. I was touring the area today and, he said, I saw this kind of thing going on. Do you really want that to go on? It’d be something that we really didn’t want happening, like trenching or doing some construction work that we didn��t know about. So he’d say, Are you going to take care of it or do you want me to take care of it? I said, Bob, I’ll take care of it. So we had a pretty good relationship. I was fair with him and he was fair UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 12 with me. And he taught me an awful lot. As I said, I was the most fortunate person in the world, working for and with people like Bob Campbell. But don’t ever cross him. I remember, I guess one of the times that I saw him really upset was during post- shot operations, which was drilling back in to get samples of the bomb debris. [ 00: 30: 00] As it turned out— well, in the early stages, again in a learning phase, we were trying to learn one thing, is when you drill into a hot cavity, to control the gases so they won’t vent out to the surface. And Campbell was test director and I— I wasn’t doing post- shot operations at that time, but they had one of the health physicists from Los Alamos, which was on every post- shot operation to help the engineer take care of— to keep things under control. And Campbell was sound asleep one night in his dorm room in Mercury and the phone rang, and he picked it up, and as I heard the story, the only thing he heard was, The damn thing blew up, and hung up the phone. And Campbell didn’t have the foggiest idea what was going on. So he was a little bit put out at that health physicist, and when he finally got under control and I guess went out to the area to see what was going on, that health physicist never came back on the test site. He was gone. What had happened actually? It was just a case that some of the containment features in the post- shot operation had failed and they were getting a little gas coming up out of there. They were not holding like they should have. But it was not anything like a blow- up. Jeanie [ Sowder] and I and— oh, names get away from me. That’s the least of our worries. We can always look up names. But anyway, we were in Mercury one night, probably at the cafeteria or maybe at the bowling alley, maybe at the bar in the bowling alley, I don’t remember. But we had a Net Five radio which was the Los Alamos net at that time. Oh, Gordon Jacks. You’ve heard of him. We were UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 13 there, and there was this Net Five radio— somebody had a portable— and this message comes over the radio, something to the effect that we had an explosion and there are people laying all over the ground. So we had a government car at that time, of course, and Gordon Jacks and I got in. I was driving. And we got out of Mercury heading up to the north, and I noticed after a few minutes after we had gotten over the first hill there, I noticed Gordon Jacks put on his seatbelt. I was moving, and hoping that a sheriff would come by and escort us into the area, but never did see a sheriff, but man, I was moving in that government car, and Gordon Jacks was fastening his seatbelt and holding on. And we got out to the area, and we had to lead the ambulance. They were parked alongside the road after we got over CP hill; they were parked alongside the road, so we led them into the area where this problem was. Well, as it turns out, it wasn’t an explosion per se; it was some flammable gas was coming out of the post- shot hole, the drilled hole, and something igniting it so it was a big flash, not a blast. And there were people injured that had been caught in the blast, or in the heat. So the paramedics took care of that problem. And then Gordon and I looked for the guy that— I knew the guy that— you’ve probably heard his name. Jerry Tatum. He was the one that was on duty out there for J- 6, and he’s the one that had sent the message. Well, we got out there and as it turns out there wasn’t anything serious. There were some flash burns. People got hair singed and this, that, and the other. But nobody was really injured. So it was a false crisis. It was all right to know that there was a problem but don’t [ 00: 35: 00] exaggerate it. But anyway, that one— what was funny about it was in driving out there at the speed I was driving and Gordon Jacks put on his seatbelt. [ laughter] I don’t think I ever put my seatbelt on. But of course I was a young punk. Yes. But in that business, I mean you’ve got to be really worried every time you hear a message like that. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 14 Well, got to be concerned. Of course we had similar situations that happened over at Test Cell A in the reactor testing area. Oh, Test Cell A. Yes. Yes, we had two test cells. The laboratory at Los Alamos had two test cells, Test Cell A and Test Cell C. And then there was our MAD building [ maintenance, assembly, and disassembly] where the reactors were assembled and disassembled after the test. And there was a lot of hydrogen gas involved in a test. Under control, supposedly, most of the time. But one day Harold Cunningham and I— he was running the REECo operation out there during the days when I was running the Los Alamos operation, and he and I worked together. And we were up at the CP, both of us were up at the CP one time, when we got a call from down there that there had been an explosion in the hydrogen system at Test Cell A. Well, as it turns out, what it was, was in the hydrogen packing, inside the test cell there was a big flange, and I mean big, like two- to- three- foot in diameter. And one of the pipe fitters had opened that flange and then when he did, there was a flash. So then Cunningham and I went down to the— when we heard what was going on, well, he and I went down to the test cell. And again it was a case of this pipe fitter had gotten flash burns. He had— his hair was gone, his eyebrows were singed, whatever. And every once in a while in that piping system— of course there was a big hydrogen storage tank out in front of the test cell, and every few minutes there would be a BOOM! inside the piping system. And so we scratched our head and stood out there and tried to figure what is causing that? Well, as it turns out, it was very simple. When they opened that flange inside the test cell, it let enough oxygen in there to create an explosive mixture. Well, of course our original concern was that we were afraid it might get to that hydrogen storage tank and blow the whole thing. But we weren’t smart enough to realize that that couldn’t— wasn’t going to happen. But we kept getting these— every few UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 15 minutes we’d get this BOOM! inside the piping system. And finally somebody got smart, and I don’t think it was me, but somebody got smart, trying to figure out how it was getting ignited. We recognized that an explosive mixture was coming in there, but how was it getting ignited? Well, we had put a flare up on top of the exhaust pipe. Whenever the explosive mixture got inside the pipe, that flare was enough to ignite it. So what we did after that, of course, was shut off the flare and then close all the valves to the hydrogen system, and got it under control without anybody getting seriously hurt. But we had some fun times out there. Yes, I guess. You got so many factors going there, scientifically, physically. It’s such a complex operation. You’ve got so many kinds of things. Like you, you’re talking about something that has nothing to do with fission or fusion or atomic explosion, but it’s a dangerous situation nonetheless, yes. Right. It’s dangerous. But we lived through them. Only got one— in the reactor testing I only recall one fatality and one serious injury, and this had to do with— we also used helium. We had [ 00: 40: 00] underground storage tanks where helium was buried out there by the test cell, and the piping, copper piping going to it, and then they’d come into a field station with the helium trucks and they’d hook them up and fill those storage tanks. Well, the pressure when they were pumping the helium into the storage tanks, the pressure was like thirty- five hundred pounds per square inch. Well again, we were in a learning phase and found out that the copper piping that we were using was only good for about two thousand p. s. i. [ pounds per s