Radiation at Queen City Summit

Message posted by Tom on May 21, 2002 at 19:47:34 PST:

On several occasions in the past, I’ve camped at Queen City Summit, just a bit south of Flat Top. It’s a private location, with a nice view of Rachel and the surrounding valley. Over the years, I’ve heard stories of Queen City Summit being “hot”, or otherwise slightly contaminated by Plutonium (if one can use “slightly contaminated” and Plutonium in the same sentence!). Presumably this was due to the area being high ground and NE of the NTS, under the old fallout dispersal area. I thought it was time I found out for myself.

Recently, I made a trip through the area, and stopped for a little investigating at Queen City Summit. I had along my trusty Ludlum Model 12 Ratemeter, with its Model 44-9 GM probe. In short, a serious radiation measuring instrument.

I pulled off the road just north of the summit, and went wandering though the tailing mounds, not far from Flat Top. My, my, my….The Ludlum was chirping like mad! The reading was averaging about 0.12 mR/hr. Scuffing down below the soil surface, it was possible to find considerably hotter pockets. This would be consistent with it being from fallout, as the passing years had covered much of the original gunk with windblown soil.

A other few values for comparison. At sea level in Southern California, I measure about 0.02 mR/hr. At the Tikaboo Saddle, the value was about 0.035 mR/hr (due to the increased elevation). I got about the same reading as Tikaboo Saddle at ground zero of Project Faultless. Web research (however trustworthy that is) says that a typical chest X-Ray is a dose of about 10 mrems and the acceptable annual dose for us non-nuclear worker types is 100 mrems. So, if I understand my radiation right, hang around Queen City Summit for about 83 hours (3 ½ days) and you get the equivalent of a chest X-Ray thanks to our nuclear program. And I don’t think I’d want to live there….you do the math.

Personally, I think I’ll choose another campsite in the future. There are nasty things lurking in the topsoil there. But it is a nice place to test out your Geiger counter.



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