Project Faultless

Project Faultless on youtube

Project Faultless is one of a eight nuclear tests that were not done at the Nevada Test Site.   Basecamp was originally set up by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to stage the project, but was taken over by the USAF once the AEC determined the site was not suitable for nuclear testing. One intent of Project Faultless was to move atomic testing away from Las Vegas, which was probably bad for business.

In the general area of Project Faultless, there are signs warning about petroleum laden soil. The diesel was not directly used in the drilling, but fuelled machinery. There are no warning signs regarding radioactivity since in theory there is none. The radiation in the general area is no higher than background.

To get to the site, take the Moores Station road from highway 6, located east of  Basecamp. Drive until you see the so-called monument, which looks like an ugly water tank from the distance.   The coordinates of the monument are posted in State Plane coordinates.. My GPS indicated the monument is at N38 38' 03.2" W116 12' 58.3" at an elevation of 6070ft.

The graffiti on the monument (left photo) is meant to mimic the shadows of bomb victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The photo on the right shows substantial erosion. It may be caused by the shockwave of the nuclear explosion, similar to capturing a wave of sound. You can see the area around the monument is depressed a bit, the intermediate land is relatively level, then the ground drops again. There is yet another ring of erosion around the one shown at the front of the photo. Note that at the time of the blast, the dirt was nearly at the top of the monument, i.e. the dirt settled about 8 feet.

There are several of these markers in the general area. The look pretty old, so perhaps they mark the elevation prior to the blast.

Much of Nevada is covered with toxic waste from abandoned mines with owners who have gone bankrupt, dissolved the corporation, or are hiding in Beatty dealing blackjack. These sites don't get cleaned up. However, the US government is still in business though running a deficit. [Exception being William Jefferson Clinton in FY2000.] The state of Nevada had the feds clean up the dirty soil at Project Faultless. The gory details can be read in DOE/NV-743-REV-1. A few select pages from the document follow. The feds took all the contaminated soil and ...well...dumped it on the Nevada Test Site. I suppose you could call that a clean up.

The next image is from a topo map of the area. Note that the Central Nevada Test Area is known as Area 58. This may come in handy when playing Groom Lake Trivial Pursuit.

Petroluem Impacted soil


The contaminants of concern for UC-4 are the hazardous constituents in the drilling mud that was used during the drilling process.  Early REECo analytical data (Table 3-2) indicated the drilling fluids consisted of a bentonite drilling mud with diesel fuel and chrome lignosulfonate additives. The extraction procedure toxicity testing of the samples collected at the mud pit indicated 8 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of chromium in the leachate.  The chromium is likely from chrome lignosulfonate, a drilling mud conditioner used to minimize drilling water loss (DRI, 1988). Additional sampling conducted in 1995 by DOE (Table 3-3) confirmed the 1986 data.  More data will be available to confirm or adjust the results once the investigation activities have been completed for the surface CAU No. 417 at CNTA (DOE, 1997)

AEC/NTS Documents:

"Summary Report Central Nevada Test Area Demobilization And Restoration Activities"
This document contains photos of Base Camp as it existed under AEC ownership

"Evaluation Of Ground Water Flow And Transport At The Faultless Underground Nuclear Test, Central Nevada Test Area"

"Closure Report for Corrective Action Unit 417 Central Nevada Test Area Surface Nevada""

Central Nevada Supplemental Test Area Facility Record"
Of interest here is the air strip was completed after the nuclear test. If an airstrip was used in staging the test, it wasn't paved!

"Radioactivity In Water Central Nevada Test Area"

"Planning Directive; Demobilization, Restoration and Monitoring Central Nevada Test Area"
Document contains some maps of Base Camp.

"Program Update July-September 2008; Office of Legacy Management"
Page 7 has an article titled "Construction is Completed at Central Nevada Test Area Well Pads"

"Final Report Of Off-Site Surveillance For The Faultless Event, January 19, 1968"
This report contains information on road blocks set up for the day of the test, plus radiological surveys.

"EPA Annual Water Sampling and Analysis, Calendar Year 2002"

More Project Faultless information:

Nearby Hot Creek Valley: