ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE/KBIM) - A dozen silos that once housed Atlas missiles poised to showernuclear destruction on the Soviet Union were finally declared safeWednesday.
Scattered around Roswell are the homes of twelve retired Atlas"F" missile silos, all now privately owned.
"This was really something that we could see the turn ofhistory,” silo owner Gary Baker said. “Keep inmind, on a DEFCON situation, we were within one number of totalnuclear war."
DEFCON stood for defense readiness condition, a numbered scalewith 5 indicating peace and 1 meaning imminent attack.
In the 1960s crews from Walker Air Force base manned the 82-footnuclear missiles. During the height of the Cold War the silos wereas on high alert.
It would take crews below ground 15 to 30 minutes to ready amissile that would launch out of two 75-ton concrete doors.
But three of them blew up during fuel loading exerciseseventually causing the silos to be shut down.
Decades later the Army Corps of Engineers celebrated the removalof chemicals like PCBs found at the sites.
"This is an effort by the federal and state governmentcollaboratively making sure that these private parties didn'tinherit any environmental problems they weren't aware of," JamesBearzi of the New Mexico Environment Department said.
Baker's is the first site in the country to be cleared of thechemicals.
"I think that is very important, not only for my site or me, butfor the state of New Mexico,” Baker said. “It is a veryproud moment"
Baker said he has given silo tours to high school students andhas thought about turning it into a museum.
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