Science: A Blank for Blanco

The project is part of the Atomic Energy Commission's Plowshare program and seemed like a promising peaceful use of nuclear energy. It calls for exploding small atomic bombs deep beneath the earth's surface to release trillions of cubic feet of natural gas trapped in subterranean rock formations. Now, after the latest in a series of test explosions in New Mexico and Colorado, AEC officials may be forced to acknowledge what some scientists predicted from the start: nuclear blasting for gas is neither economical nor practical.

Last May, in an operation named Project Rio Blanco, the AEC exploded three 30-kiloton devices that had...

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