Wind turbines and a growing population are posing new issues of concern regarding Montana’s underground nuclear missile silos. As a consequence the Air Force is asking Congress for help, especially because of “towering wind turbines, which are growing in number and size and are edging closer to the sites each year,” reports the Associated Press (AP).

The Air Force wants Congress to pass legislation to create a 2-nautical-mile buffer zone around each site. Underground silos are located in Nebraska, Colorado, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

“…underground nuclear missile silos are rarely disturbed by more than the occasional wandering cow or floating spy balloon,” notes the AP.

In general the silos are “almost undetectable” located on private farmland, appearing as a small rectangular plot marked only by an antennae, chain-link fence and a flat 110,000 ton concrete silo blast door.

Increasingly, sometimes, stretching for miles, wind turbines tower in proximity, hundreds of feet high, with long, sweeping blades with “parts so large and long they dwarf the 18-wheeler flatbed trucks that transport them to new sites.” They pose a danger for military helicopter crews. “When an alarm triggers at a site, the UH-1 Huey crews fly in low and fast, often with security teams on board.” The turbines not only pose physical obstacles but create turbulence.

Some of the modern turbines have towers as tall as 650 feet, or nearly 200 meters, , “which is twice the height of the Statue of Liberty.” Of the 450 sites, 46 are “severely” encroached upon, which the Air Force defines as having more than half of the routes to the launch site closed due to obstructions

Wind energy advocates are supportive of the restriction, according to AP.

Language to create a setback was included in the Senate version of the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, but would need to be negotiated into the House version of the bill.

But the service acknowledges the difficult position it is in. The farmers who have allowed it to use their lands for decades benefit from the income from the turbine leases, and the service does not want to appear to push back on environmental energy alternatives, they are nevertheless concerned about the safety for helicopter and nuclear security operations.”


You must be logged in to post a comment.