No worries, says the professor of geology.
Let's all be glad we don't have to worry about
plutonium and old nukes laying around.
Nuclear bomb off Ga. coast worries locals
[link to mdjonline.com
The pilot was instructed to jettison the nuclear bomb before attempting to land, so he dropped the weapon into the shallow waters off the Georgia coast, near Tybee Island, on Feb. 5, 1958.
Despite a search that lasted more than a month, the bomb, 11 feet long and 3 feet in diameter and weighing more than 7,000 pounds, was never recovered. The Air Force determined it was “irretrievably lost.”
In 1998, retired Air Force Col. Derek Duke helped renew interest in finding the bomb. He helped form a salvage company to mount another search in 2004, but he never found the weapon.
“It was determined since we could not find it, it would still be considered irretrievably lost,” he said Tuesday.
But Duke, who lives in Statesboro, about 75 miles from where the bomb was ditched, is convinced that if the federal government conducted another search, using the newest technology, the bomb would be found. And he believes it is simply a matter of convincing the right government officials that finding the weapon is long overdue.
But according to Jerry Brandon, a former staff member at Sandia National Laboratories, an engineering and science laboratory in New Mexico under contract to the U.S. Department of Energy, the public should not be concerned about the bomb exploding.
“The worst thing that would happen is, it would leak plutonium,” he said.
Clark Alexander, professor of geology at Skidaway Institute of Oceanography
, a University System of Georgia research institute on Skidaway, says it is likely the bomb is buried 20 to 30 feet deep in sediment.
Despite the radioactive material and an estimated 400 pounds of TNT in the bomb that is becoming more unstable as time passes, Alexander says the best course of action is to leave the weapon where it lays. He has no concerns about adverse impacts to the environment.
If the bomb is buried deep in sand, Alexander says it is likely the bomb casing has already corroded and has leaked nuclear material. It is also likely a nuclear leak won’t be noticed because of strong tides flushing the material to sea.