The Power of Mother Nature

The Air Force announced yesterday that a Minuteman III ICBM from the 91st Missile Wing at Minot AFB, N.D., will be removed from its silo and sent to the depot at Hill AFB, Utah, for testing and analysis after water runoff from melting snow seeped into its launch tube last month. “We are taking the most conservative approach,” said Col. Michael Spencer, vice commander of the wing. These measures are “to be certain there is no damage to any of the components,” he added. The area around Minot experienced record levels of snowfall this winter. The wing’s 150 Minuteman silos have been under increased observation, with several of them receiving preventative measures, such as pumps, earthen berms, and sandbags, to handle the greater than expected water runoff. The wing has identified at least three dozen missile sites scattered throughout its complex in rural North Dakota that are situated in a manner that increases their susceptibility to runoff and draining problems. Accordingly, it is making plans to improve the topography around them. (Minot release by Laurie Arellano)