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Teton Dam explosive study sparks concerns

What the Department of Defense is calling a routine experiment is news to several environmentalist groups.

Friends of the Teton River Executive Director Amy Verbeten said her organization recently became aware of the assessment.

It is now working with conservation partners to make sure the assessment is accurate.

“The types of things that are typical covered under an environmental assessment are impacts on wildlife, impacts on fisheries, impacts on water supply for irrigation and municipalities and several other factors,” said Verbeten.

The DOD’S Defense Threat Reduction Agency is planning to use explosives near the Teton Dam to monitor shock waves traveling through volcanic rock. They are doing the study to predict what would happen in the event of an underground terrorist attack. It claims the former dam has the best quality of volcanic soil for its underground explosion. The explosive force will equal that of 190 pounds of TNT.

The department said it will follow the strictest environmental standards. It said it will need to drill holes for sensors and surveillance equipment, but it said the testing site will be restored to its natural condition once the experiment is completed.

The DOD said it found that the experiment would have little to no impact on the environment, as seen in this assessment. The draft is open for public comment.

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