Once Upon Alaska: Project Chariot

Published: Feb. 7, 2020 at 7:58 AM AKST
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On February 1, 1969, the US Government officially scrapped the plans for "Project Chariot." The idea was to explode six nuclear bombs blasting a man-made harbor into the earth.

Author Dan O'Neil chronicled this story in his book "The Firecracker Boys." We spoke to him this week and he told channel 2 "If they were to do the explosion they originally planned, which was 2.4 megatons of yield, that would have been very rough for the nearby native villages. It would have knocked down structures, it would have pasted them with enormous radiation, and likely a great deal of that country would be unlivable today."

The project itself was eventually deemed too expensive but that was after major push back by professors at UAF, by conservationists, and most importantly by the people of Point Hope itself.

"They were low on political influence but they were absolutely solid in resistance here. They wrote letters to the president, they demanded that some of the commissioners themselves came to point hope to talk to them about this process. Together they brought formidable force against the US atomic energy commission, which had never lost a battle in its history." Said Dan O'Neill.

The grassroots efforts of the people of Point Hope along with help from others made a huge difference in stopping the Project Chariot plan from going forward, and it happened... Once Upon Alaska.

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