Detonation season begins Monday for HAFB in the West Desert

The Air Force detonates a solid-rocket motor June 2, 2015, at the Utah Test and Training Range in Utah. (Photo: U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

Hill Air Force Base is beginning large detonation operations at the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR) on Monday.

The detonations will occur two or three times a week and continue through the end of August 2019, a press release stated.

Blasts are expected to destroy rocket motors and solid propellant of Air Force and Navy ballistic missiles. The detonations eliminate aged propellant and support part of the base's international treaties to reduce the number of ballistic missiles. Since 2012, more than 300 rocket motors have been destroyed at UTTR, the release said.

Michelle Cottle, the environmental branch chief for the 75th Civil Engineer Group, said in a prepared statement:

Detonation is the best environmental method for disposing of the rocket motors and propellant. The UTTR is the only location in the United States capable of destroying these missile motors, and we do everything possible to do this work without adversely affecting those around us.

The news release stated that before each large detonation at the UTTR – those involving more than 10,000 pounds of net explosive weight – the Air Force takes atmospheric readings and enters them into a sound model to determine if conditions are acceptable for a large detonation.

If the model predicts that noise is going to be louder than permitted levels at locations along the Wasatch Front, base officials will delay detonations, the release said.