BOMARC Missile Accident Site

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Missiles near the accident site (not shown), October 1960.

The BOMARC Missile Accident Site[2][3] ("BOMARC Site RW-01") is a 75-acre (30 ha)[4] fenced-off[1] radiological waste site of the United States Air Force Installation Restoration Program contaminated primarily with "weapons-grade plutonium (WGP), highly-enriched and depleted uranium."[5] The Cold War nuclear accident occurred at Launcher Shelter 204, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (commonly known as the McGuire Unit at Fort Dix), Burlington County, New Jersey, United States, approximately 16.1 miles (25.9 km) south-southeast of Trenton. Launcher Shelter 204 stored the CIM-10 Bomarc missile (one of fifty-four at the base).[6]

1960 Fort Dix IM-99 accident

"On 7 June 1960, an explosion in a helium tank [between the missile's fuel tanks[7]] took place in Shelter 204 causing a fire in a liquid-fueled, nuclear-tipped BOMARC missile. The fire burned uninhibited for about 30 minutes. Firefighting activities, using water as a suppressant, were conducted for 15 hours. As a result, materials from the shelter flowed under the front shelter doors, down the asphalt apron and street between the row of shelters, and into the drainage ditch".[5] "Contamination was restricted to an area immediately beneath the weapon and an adjacent elongated area approximately 100 feet long".[8] A nuclear response team from Griffiss Air Force Base found "no trace of dispersed radiation" during spot checks "outside the facility's boundaries" for 66 mi (106 km).[1] Approximately 300 g (11 oz) of WGP was not recovered,[9] "A significant fraction of the radiological material contained in the weapon [was] shipped…to Medina Base, San Antonio TX"[5] and then to Amarillo.[10]

According to the Trenton Times, “In June 1987, traces of a radioactive substance used in nuclear warheads (americium-241 related to plutonium) were found about one-half mile from the site."[11] In a 1992 report, the Air Force wrote that the missile launcher from Shelter 204 had been removed from the shelter shortly after the accident, and that no records about the manner of disposal of the missile launcher existed. They found five anomalous areas which could represent the buried launcher.[11] From 1999-2000 the USGS sampled and tested the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer with shallow ground water and sediment for radionuclides. No manmade radionuclide was present in the well-bottom sediments, or unfiltered or filtered water samples.[12] From April 2002 through May 27, 2004,[4][13] 21,998 cu yd (16,819 m3) of "contaminated debris and soils were packaged, shipped, and disposed"[14] at Clive, Utah,;[15] the remains of the shelter were removed. In 2005, the contaminated area was estimated as 7 acres[16] and ~60 cu yd (46 m3) were additionally remediated by 2007.[17] The 1972[18] RW-01 perimeter fence with height 6 ft (1.8 m) topped with barbed wire[19] was extended by 2007 to include a larger area on the south.[9] A 2013 study compared the characteristics of the accident's particle release with the nuclear warhead dispersals of the 1966 Palomares B-52 crash and 1968 Thule Air Base B-52 crash.[20]

BOMARC Base No. 1

BOMARC Base No. 1 was the New Jersey missile launch complex of 218 acres (88 ha)[21] within the "Range and Impact Area"[22] at the Northeast corner of Fort Dix.[23] The military installation was 1 of 2 Cold War BOMARC bases of the New York Air Defense Sector (cf. Long Island's Suffolk County Missile Annex). The Formerly Used Defense Site was the 1st operational BOMARC base and had both a "Missile Support Area" with a Squadron Operations Center and a "Launch Area" with 56 Mode II Launcher Shelters in 2 flights (e.g., 2 compressor buildings were available to simultaneously get 2 missiles to the "Standby" stage prior to "Fire-up".) [23] The missile complex was an annex of McGuire Air Force Base 6 mi (9.7 km) to the west where the sector's SAGE Direction Center (DC-01) was the missile launch control center. By 1955 the base was planned for January 1960 operations as the 1st BOMARC site[24] (construction began January 1958),[25] and it became operational on 1 September 1959 with 3 IM-99A missiles (24 by 1 January).[26] In December 1959, Col. Robert E. Stuart was the base commander, the 46th Air Defense Missile Squadron (BOMARC) commander was Lt. Col. Ernest B. Sheppard, and the Boeing support office was in New Egypt.[23]

External images
1960 damage to Launcher Shelter 204
21st century photos of shelter damage
various facility photos


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Air Force Magazine". Retrieved 20 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Provide Technical Services for BOMARC Missile Accident Site" (federal solicitation). August 28, 2003 [August 20, 2003]. Retrieved 2013-08-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Vest, Gary (Nov 20, 1992). Record of Decision, BOMARC Missile Accident Site (PDF) (Report). AD-A261 304. Retrieved 2013-08-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Scott Morgan (June 24, 2004). "BOMARC accident site cleaned". Bordentown Register-News (NJ). Retrieved 20 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Rademacher; et al. (August 28, 2007). …Missile Shelters and Bunkers Scoping Survey Workplan (Report). ADA471460. Air Force Institute of Operational Health. Retrieved 2013-08-06. Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) removed weapon debris that contained a significant fraction of the radiological material contained in the weapon, and shipped the materials to Medina Base, San Antonio TX. … Shelters 202, 205, and 209 were possibly contaminated as a result of the fire, firefighting, and subsequent decontamination of exterior locations. Also, shelter 210 was suspect, as it was used as a staging area for radiological sampling activities for many years.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Cause of Bomarc Accident Not Announced by Air Force" (Google news archive). Eugene Register-Guard. June 8, 1960. Retrieved 2013-08-07. State police at the Ft. Dix barracks said they received a call from the base security police saying an atomic warhead had exploded and asking troopers to close off roads into the area.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Imholtz Jr, August (2011-04-26). "The Bomarc Missile Plutonium Spill Crisis: Exercises in Propaganda and Containment in 1960 and Beyond" (blog post). The Readex Blog. Retrieved 2013-08-07. …the container of nonflammable helium gas, located between two fuel tanks, burst…<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (quotation from webpage's image of a 1960 Augusta Chronicle article). "the fire was one of the largest environmental disasters in the environmentally sensitive Pinelands, which did not become federally protected until 1978" (quotation from the webpage's transcription of a 2010 Burlington County Times' article).
  8. quotation from similar to 1981 DoD statemtent
  9. 9.0 9.1
  10. McCulla; et al. (May 22, 1996). BOMARC…Missile Accident Site Mitigation Review (PDF) (Report). LA-UR-96-1765. Los Alamos National Laboratory. Retrieved 2013-07-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. 11.0 11.1 THOMAS P. FARNER (July 23, 2015). "Nuclear 'Cleanup' Leaves Many Questions". The Sandpaper Inc. Retrieved 31 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Zoltan Szabo, Otto S. Zapecza, Jeannette H. Oden, and Donald E. Rice (2005). "Radiochemical Sampling and Analysis of Shallow Ground Water and Sediment at the BOMARC Missile Facility, East-Central New Jersey, 1999-2000, Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5062". US geological survey. Retrieved 31 July 2015. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "BOMARC cleanup to begin Radioactive waste at Plumsted site will be taken to Utah - - Tri-Town News". Retrieved 20 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Duratek 2006, cited by Rademacher
  16. Kalmykov, Stepan N. & Denecke, Melissa A. (ed.). "Actinide Nanoparticle Research". <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Matt Montana. "BOMARC Rt 539 New Egypt, NJ 08533 Ocean Abandoned". Retrieved 20 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. James Bowen Samuel Glover, Henry Spitz (May 2013). "Morphology of actinide-rich particles released from the BOMARC accident and collected from soil post remediation". Journal of Radioanalytical & Nuclear Chemistry. EBSCO Publishing. 296 (2): 853. Retrieved 20 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. New York Times: "News accounts of the accident, which occurred on June 7, 1960, reported that a Bomarc missile burned on its pad at the 218-acre 46th Air Defense Missile Squadron base in Jackson Township, sending an orange-yellow cloud into the air and spreading a small amount of radioactive material around the 40-by-50-foot silo. [sic]"
  22. "Public Health Assessment". Retrieved 2013-08-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 IM-99A Bases Manual (Report). Seattle, Washington: Boeing: Pilotless Aircraft Division. 12-3-59. Differences in the Langley Base layout are due to planning for accommodation of the advanced missile system [(IM-99B) ground equipment with equipment for] the IM-99A system Check date values in: |date= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. McMullen, R. F. (15 Feb 80). History of Air Defense Weapons 1946–1962 (Report). ADC Historical Study No. 14. Historical Division, Office of information, HQ ADC. p. 176. …in 1955, to support a program which called for 40 squadrons of BOMARC (120 missiles to a squadron for a total of 4,800 missiles), ADC reached a decision on the location of these 40 squadrons and suggested operational dates for each. The plan was as follows: … l. McGuire 1/60 2. Suffolk 2/60 3. Otis 3/60 4. Dow 4/60 5. Niagara Falls 1/61…6 . Plattsburg 1/61 7. Kinross 2/61 8. K. 1. Sawyer 2/61 9. Langley 2/61 10. Truax 3/61 11. Paine 3/61 12. Portland 3/61 … At the end of 1958, ADC plans called for construction of the following BOMARC bases in the following order: l. McGuire 2. Suffolk 3. Otis 4. Dow 5. Langley 6. Truax 7. Kinross 8. Duluth 9. Ethan Allen 10. Niagara Falls 11. Paine 12. Adair 13. Travis 14. Vandenberg 15. San Diego 16. - Malmstrom 17. Grand Forks 18. Minot 19. Youngstown 20. Seymour-Johnson 21. Bunker Hill 22. Sioux Falls 23. Charleston 24. McConnell 25. Holloman 26. McCoy 27. Amarillo 28. Barksdale 29 . Williams Check date values in: |date= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: Eastern New Jersey". Retrieved 20 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Preface by Buss, L. H. (Director) (1 May 1960). North American Air Defense Command and Continental Air Defense Command Historical Summary: July–December 1959 (PDF) (Report). Directorate of Command History: Office of Information Services.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> In the last six months of 1959, two IM-99A squadrons became operational and assumed an air defense role. The first…was the 46th Air Defense Missile Squadron (BOMARC) based at McGuire AFB, New Jersey…activated on 1 January 1959…operational on 1 September 1959 with three missiles.