Uncontrollable fire at the Urta-Bulak gas well, 1966
Uncontrollable fire at the Urta-Bulak gas well. Flames rising from a gas well fire in the Urta-Bulak gas field in 1966, 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, and 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.