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700-ton bomb test in Nevada
Washington/Las Vegas - The US military plans to test a massive conventional bomb in Nevada this summer, sparking protests and health concerns from local leaders.
The 700-tonne explosive will be detonated in the Nevada desert on June 2 to test the bomb's ability to destroy deeply buried bunkers and illicit weapons storage facilities, the Washington Post reported Friday.
'This is the largest single explosive we could imagine doing,' said James A Tegnelia, director of the Pentagon's Defence Threat Reduction Agency.
The bomb consists of 700 tonnes of heavy ammonium nitrate fuel oil, which should create a blast equivalent to 593 tonnes of TNT.
The munition was developed because the US Congress has refused to fund a Pentagon proposal to develop nuclear-tipped bunker busting bombs.
But local leaders in Nevada have expressed worry over possible effects of the blast, which will take place on the former nuclear testing grounds about 145 kilometres northwest of Las Vegas.
'I am concerned that tests of this magnitude have been planned without providing Nevadans with any information about the possible impact on their health or safety,' said Democratic senator and minority leader Harry Reid, who represents Nevada.
'Given the level of contamination in areas where nuclear tests were conducted, I have real concerns about the dust and other pollutants that will be released into the air as a result of this explosion,' said Nevada Congresswoman Shelley Berkley.
© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur