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Urta-Bulak gas well underground nuclear explosion. Animation showing how a gas well fire was extinguished using a nuclear explosion. The gas well fire was in the Urta-Bulak gas field in southern Uzbekistan, in what was then the Soviet Union (USSR). The fire had been burning for almost three years, and conventional methods to end it had failed. Boreholes were drilled to a depth of about 1500 metres, reaching a 200-metre-thick layer of thick clay. A 30-kiloton nuclear explosive was lowered into the borehole to around 35 metres from the shaft of the gas well. This bomb, an example of a peaceful nuclear explosion (PNE), was detonated and turned the rock to glass, sealing the gas well shaft. This successfully extinguished the gas well fire. No radioactivity above background levels was detected in subsequent surveys. The detonation took place on 30 September 1966.
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