In the Congressional Record Reid honors the 60th Anniversary of N2S2
January 28, 2011
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid recognized the 60th anniversary of the recently renamed Nevada Test Site. Now known as the Nevada National Security Site (N2S2), the site has played a vital role in national security.
“Since 1951 the Nevada National Security Site and the Nevadans that work there have been the on the front line of our national security,” said Reid. “At its inception N2S2 was the most important proving ground for nuclear weapons and today it is the nation’s designated proving ground for solar energy technology. N2S2 is well on its way to becoming a center of nation security preparedness and innovation in clean energy.”
Throughout its history Reid has actively ensured that the site received the federal funding necessary for nuclear weapons research. Reid also fought for compensation for test site workers who were affected by radiation sickness and other illnesses they had gotten during their work with nuclear material. For nearly a decade Reid worked against bureaucratic roadblocks to establish a special medical compensation cohort for affected test site workers. More recently N2S2 has taken on new roles in detecting dangerous weapons, treaty verification, fighting terrorism and nuclear smuggling, and training first responders. Additionally, 17,000 acres of the site are now a solar energy demonstration zone where the most groundbreaking solar technologies are being developed and tests.
Below is a copy of the record statement:
60th Anniversary of the Nevada National Security Site
Mr. REID. Mr. President, I rise today to recognize the 60th Anniversary of the Nevada National Security Site (N2S2). The Nevada National Security Site, formerly known as the Nevada Test Site, has played an important role in keeping our nation safe and will continue to do so as we face new security challenges.
On January 27, 1951, a half kiloton nuclear weapon called “Able” was dropped on N2S2, launching a 40-year era. In that instant, N2S2 became the nation’s most important nuclear weapons proving grounds. I am thankful for the work done by the men and women at the site who dedicated their careers and sacrificed their health to keeping America safe. Nearly 20 years after our nation’s last nuclear test, I am proud to say that N2S2 is still helping secure America with a new mission tailored to 21st century threats and making us energy independent.
928 atmospheric and underground tests were performed at the N2S2 before the United States established a moratorium on nuclear weapons testing in 1992. The vast majority of testing in this period took place underground, in a network of tunnels and shafts. Even though these tunnels were designed to contain radiation from the explosions, thousands of N2S2 workers still experienced radiation exposure from most of the underground detonations.
In 2000, after a number of my colleagues and I had begun to hear disturbing stories about illnesses they had gotten from their nuclear weapons work and their inability to get any financial compensation from the government, we passed the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Act. This legislation was designed to allow thousands of America’s Cold War veterans receive compensation that would help pay their medical bills and honor the sacrifices they and their families had made for our country.
Unfortunately, it soon became clear that even with this new law, it would not be easy for many workers to get the compensation they deserved. In 2005, I began to hear from workers and survivors complaining that they were being put through an endless stream of bureaucratic red tape only to be denied in the end. I was enraged that these workers were denied compensation, so I worked for the next five years before successfully securing automatic compensation for most of Nevada’s Cold War veterans and their families.
On August 23, 2010 I joined Tom D’Agostino, the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, and officials from the State Department, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense to recognize the continued importance of one of our nation’s vital national security sites. We established not only a new name, but a new mission for N2S2. Changing the site’s name from the Nevada Test Site to Nevada National Security Site reflects the unique opportunities to use the site for detecting dangerous weapons, treaty verification, fighting terrorism and nuclear smuggling, and training first responders.
The Nevada National Security Site is the ideal laboratory for this work. It’s uniquely secure, and close to Nevadans who are eager to get back to work as soon as they can find a good job. And it already has a workforce of 3,000 men and women dedicated to serving their country.
The Nevada National Security Site is not only breaking ground on new ways to keep us safe from weapons; it is also breaking ground on developing clean energy technologies that will make us energy independent. The former nuclear weapons proving ground will soon be a proving ground for concentrating solar energy technologies. Last August, I joined Energy Secretary Chu and Interior Secretary Salazar to designate a 17,000 acre portion of N2S2 as the nation’s solar demonstration zone for testing the most innovative and promising solar technologies in an area with almost perpetual sun shine.
When Nevadans and all Americans look at the Nevada National Security Site, they will see opportunities reflecting the core values of innovation, leadership and security. I ask all my colleagues to join with me and the people of Nevada in recognizing the Nevada National Security Site’s 60th Anniversary, its rich history and bright future.