Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Atomic Testing in Mississippi: Project Dribble and the Quest for Nuclear Weapons Treaty Verification in the Cold War Era

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Atomic Testing in Mississippi: Project Dribble and the Quest for Nuclear Weapons Treaty Verification in the Cold War Era

Article excerpt

Atomic Testing in Mississippi: Project Dribble and the Quest for Nuclear Weapons Treaty Verification in the Cold War Era. By David Allen Burke. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2012. Pp. [xii], 194. $39.95, ISBN 978-0-8071-4583-8.)

The title of the introduction in David Allen Burke's new book is "I Had No Idea," which succinctly captures the reaction most readers will undoubtedly have upon learning of the atomic testing that occurred in south-central Mississippi in the 1960s. In an effort to test nuclear weapons detection technology, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) set its sights on the salt domes of the rural South for a series of atomic test explosions. The Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963 had banned all atmospheric testing, and U.S. officials needed to make sure they had detection equipment capable of registering the seismic changes that result from underground testing of a nuclear device by another nation. The AEC finally decided that the Tatum Salt Dome near Hattiesburg would make an effective underground cavity to perform these tests. Residents of the area, sensing an influx of capital investment and jobs, initially welcomed the AEC. Ultimately, the AEC alienated most residents and created ill will that lasts to the present day.

Burke concludes that there were mixed results of the atomic tests in Mississippi. "Internationally, they were crucial," Burke states, "and, perhaps as a result, we did not enter into a thermonuclear war" (pp. …

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