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Iron County opposes Divine Strake blast

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Iron County commissioners are in unanimous agreement when it comes to opposing the federal government's plan to detonate 700 tons of ammonium nitrate fuel oil at the Nevada Test Site.

"We felt strongly we ought to come out against it," Iron County Commissioner Wayne Smith said on Tuesday of the proposed blast dubbed Divine Strake. "We really didn't want to become the dumping ground for this kind of test."

The Iron County Commission approved its position statement against Divine Strake during its regular meeting last week. The document is a near replica of one passed by the Washington County Commission several weeks ago.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency with the U.S. Department of Defense is developing a plan that would permit the experiment if it can be conducted safely and in compliance with the nation's environmental policies, according to agency officials.

Public information sessions on Divine Strake were held in early January in Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and St. George. Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who has voiced opposition to the test, also held two public hearings on the subject in Salt Lake City and St. George.

"There are a lot of unknowns with this test," Smith said. "We've had a lot of residents here make comments to the commission in opposition to it."

Smith said as a teenager growing up in Beaver during the mid-1950s he would watch the large, reddish, mushroom-shaped clouds created by nuclear tests rise skyward as he did his chores outside.

"It seemed like there was a lot of activity. My mother was really the only one in our family concerned about it," he recalled. "She said it wasn't good for us to be outside when they did the tests and got mad at me if I didn't go inside."

The Utah Senate earlier passed a resolution objecting to the test, as did the cities of St. George and Springdale in Washington County.