Historic Colorado: Nuclear Bomb Used to Frack in Rulison
A nuclear device that was more than twice as powerful as the one dropped on Hiroshima was used on the Piceance Basin in 1969.
Six and one-half miles from Rulison, the 40 kiloton device, the equivalent to 40,000 tons of TNT was used in the hopes that it would free up the oil and natural gas reserves being held deep in the ground.
In Parachute, residents were alerted to the event, souvenirs were sold and the atmosphere, according to eyewitnesses, was almost party-like.
Residents were instructed, in part to be outside in case the explosion actually damaged buildings, roads were closed and people prepared to watch history.
Ultimately, there was little residual damage. A few chimneys lost some bricks and in a few places things fell from shelves, but other than that, there was no real damage.
The plan was to try and use nuclear power in a variety of ways in what became known as The Plowshare Program. It was thought in this application, the nuclear blast would do what fracking has been unable to do on a large scale, and that is to make it easier to remove the oil and gas from the shale.
No one was injured and there were no reports of radiation sickness after the event.