Comment: Part Three has now been added. Scroll down.

Part One

The subject of UFOs spotted at missile bases and other sensitive nuclear facilities has received quite a bit of attention in recent years thanks to the great research of longtime ufologist Robert Hastings, author of the book UFOs and Nukes - Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites. Hastings was also the sponsor of a significant panel of former military witnesses of these incidents at the National Press Club (NPC) in Washington, DC on September 27, 2010. He wrote the cover story, "UFO/Nuclear Connection," for Open Minds magazine issue 7 (April/May 2011), where he discussed the media impact of his NPC event.

Nevada test site 1950
© Atomic Testing MuseumThe Nevada Test Site in the 1950s. The development of atomic energy pretty much coincided with the beginning of the flying saucer era.
Long before all this I had treaded some of the same territory for a three-part series I wrote in early 1982, under the pseudonym of A. Hovni, for the supplement UFOs and other Cosmic Phenomena, published weekly by the longtime defunct New York City newspaper The News World. I did extensive research on the declassified UFO files of the CIA, FBI, USAF, U.S. Army and Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), which had then been recently released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The files clearly showed that the military and intelligence agencies were quite worried during the early period of the flying saucer era in the late forties and early fifties by the large amount of UFO sightings over sensitive nuclear facilities. Many resulted in the scramble of fighter planes. This was the height of the Cold War and a climate of "red menace" paranoia was rampant in at least parts of the U.S. government. Many of the UFO-nuke documents come under the heading of "Protection of Vital Installations."

I have transcribed the article exactly as it was published back in February of 1982, except for the correction of a few typos. However, I've added at the end some of the official documents mentioned in the original story, so you can read the full document and not just the quotes excerpted in the article.


The News World, New York City, February 20, 1982

UFO surveillance of A-plants

U.S. documents show atomic link to saucers

By A. Hovni
Special to The News World

First in a three-part series

We often hear the statement that UFOs, whatever they are, have a tendency to buzz atomic plants and other similarly sensitive military and industrial installations. This is naturally used to support the theory that UFOs are extraterrestrial devices which understandably are engaged in a systematic surveillance of the Earth's military and industrial resources. And yes indeed, there is enough evidence to verify the assertion that UFOs do fly over atomic plants.

This is not based on hearsay or unconfirmed press accounts, but rather on dozens of declassified U.S. government documents from agencies such as the CIA, the FBI, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army, and last but not least, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). These documents have been obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Dr. Bruce Maccabee, now with the Fund for UFO Research, and New York City attorney Peter Gersten, for Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS) and Ground Saucer Watch (GSW). But let's plunge into the evidence.

UFOs - an energy link noted

Because the flying saucer phenomenon followed closely the growing development of atomic energy, it shouldn't come as a surprise that both subjects became mixed up in more than one opportunity. Take, for instance, a July 18, 1947 FBI memorandum concerning the opinions of an informant, a nuclear scientist from Stamford, Connecticut, about "flying saucers." The memo's sub-headline reads "Atomic Energy Act," and the scientist (name deleted) had worked at the MIT's Radiation Laboratory during the Manhattan project, and was employed at the time the memo was written with the American Cyanamid Research Laboratory in Stamford.

He told an FBI agent in New Haven that, "it is quite possible that actually the 'flying saucers' could be radio controlled germ bombs or atom bombs which are circling the orbit of the earth and which could be controlled by radio and directed to land on any designated target at the specific desire of the agency or country operating the bombs."

The possibility that UFOs were really "nuclear-propelled missiles" was discussed in another lengthy FBI memo, dated January 10, 1949. An FBI agent in Knoxville, Tenn. had received a "voluntary" visit by a Mr. Roterman, who was "the principal army technician at the Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft Research Center at Oak Ridge, Tennessee," according to the document. Flying saucers had already been sighted and reported at Oak Ridge itself, and a concentrated flap would follow in 1950, as we shall see in our next article.

In any event, it was Roterman's personal opinion that "there is only one possible fuel which could be utilized (in UFOs) which is in accord with present theory, and that is the utilization of atomic energy." To support his theory, Roterman "called attention to the vapor trail and gaseous corona described as a ball of fire, which he states might give some evidence to the fact that a radioactive field is present."

Los Alamos National Laboratory
© Los Alamos National LaboratoryThe Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the key facility for World War II’s Manhattan Project atomic bomb, and site of many 'fireball' sightings in the late 40s and early 50s.
When the Central Intelligence Agency became seriously involved in the flying saucer situation during the early '50s, they seemed to be much more cautious about confusing saucers with missiles, although they certainly did notice and research a link between UFOs and atomic energy. For example, a CIA document based on a briefing with the Air Force, dated August 22, 1952, states that "a study of 'flying saucer' sightings on a geographical basis showed them to be more frequent in the vicinity of atomic energy installations," to which the CIA added in parenthesis, that this could be "explained by the greater security consciousness of persons in those areas." Yet the fact remains undisputed that before 1953, when President Eisenhower launched his famous "Atoms for Peace" campaign, UFOs had been spotted frequently over all of America's top nuclear research facilities, including the restricted areas around Los Alamos and Sandia Base in New Mexico, the Hanford AEC plants and waste disposal sites in Washington State, the Oak Ridge nuclear facilities in Tennessee, and the Savannah River Plant in South Carolina.

This would lead some "CIA consultants" to state that the solution of the UFO conundrum "would probably be found on the margins or just beyond the frontiers of our present knowledge in the fields of atmospheric, ionospheric, and extraterrestrial phenomena, with the added possibility that the present dispersal of nuclear waste products might also be a factor."

Understandably, the CIA would elaborate further on this possibility, which is mentioned in several documents, memoranda and position papers from the time. Speculating that "UFOs may be electromagnetic or electrostatic in character," one of the documents from the summer of '52 added that, "effects of interaction between these natural phenomena and radioactive material in the air can only be conjectured." It gave as possible evidence the fact that UFO sightings had been reported at Los Alamos and Oak Ridge, "at a time when the background radiation count had risen inexplicably." But convenient as this explanation seemed, the CIA was nevertheless cautious to conclude that "here we run out of even 'blue yonder' explanations that might be tenable, and we still are left with numbers of incredible reports from credible observers."

With Headquarters in Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, the Fourth Army was responsible during the early post-World War II era with the protection of Los Alamos and Sandia Base in New Mexico, and Camp Hood in Texas. All these restricted areas were the subject of numerous unexplained sightings between 1948 and 1950. One Fourth Army document, dated July 2, 1949, gives a complete "Summary of Observations of Aerial Phenomena, Camp Hood, Texas," indicating that "over 100 men and officers have observed and reported the phenomena." Termed "fireballs" for lack of a better name, some objects were described "round" and others with "diamond or oblong shape." Beginning on March 6, 1949, the phenomenon was said to appear at Camp Hood "on the average of every nine days," and it was determined that no conventional aircraft had been flying at the time.

Dr. Lincoln La Paz
© Lincoln La Paz, the well known expert on meteorites at the University of New Mexico, who took a preeminent role in the investigation of the mysterious fireballs for the U.S. government.
Other documents show that similar fireballs "of an intense white or greenish white" had been observed several times by "security inspectors at Los Alamos AEC project," as well as by sentries at Sandia Base and Kirtland Field. Furthermore, meteorologist and astronomer Dr. Lincoln La Paz, from the University of New Mexico, was pproached by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) to cooperate in the ongoing investigation. One of the Fourth Army documents states that "Dr. La Paz has, from descriptions of observations furnished him and, BY PERSONAL OBSERVATION, determined that the objects sighted are NOT natural meteoric phenomena." (Capital letters and emphasis in the original).

The FBI also became aware of the problem, as we can see from a memo written on January 31, 1949 by the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) in San Antonio to Director J. Edgar Hoover, summarizing the series of sightings "toward the apparent 'target', namely, Los Alamos." Besides repeating both the sightings and hypothesis mentioned already, the memo cites a letter by a woman whose name has been deleted. Although the agent says "she has generally been considered unreliable and possibly mentally unbalanced" - presumably deduced from her numerous letters "to Military Authorities concerning her theories regarding Atomic Energy" - nevertheless he added that "she, however, has submitted to Military Authorities the only theory thus far known that has any credibility at all, namely, that the lights are manifestations of cosmic rays which are directed toward a specific point. She further theorizes that such rays may interfere with the ignition of motors and may account for various unexplained air crashes."

In his classic book, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, the late former Project Bluebook Head, Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, revealed that at one point the government was so concerned with the fireballs around Los Alamos that a high level scientific conference was called in. Dr. Edward Teller, the father of the H bomb, Dr. Lincoln La Paz, and other luminaries were among the participants. Eventually the Air Force established Project Twinkle, under Dr. La Paz, to study, photograph and measure the phenomenon with three "cinetheodolite stations" near White Sands, New Mexico. It is generally recognized, however, that by the time Project Twinkle finally became operational, the concentration of fireballs had also began to die out, so that no significant data was obtained. Yet the presence of "flying discs" around vital atomic plants was by no means over. (See the enclosed letter from USAF Lt. Col. Doyle Rees to the Director of AFOSI in Washington, Brig. Gen. Joseph Carroll, covering the entire fireball issue. The document was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and disseminated by attorney Peter Gersten).

Sample Official Documents

July 13, 1947 FBI memo, re. "Atomic Energy Act," with information provided by an informant who was a nuclear scientist at the American Cyanamid Research Labs in Connecticut.

USAF Briefing to the CIA, dated Aug. 22, 1952, with quote (point IV) about "flying saucer sightings . . . in the vicinity of atomic energy installations."

Confidential report from Los Alamos, dated Dec. 13, 1948, regarding Dr. Lincoln La Paz's own sighting of a fireball.

December 1948 document from Headquarters Fourth Army in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, re. "Unidentified Flying Objects New Mexico," summarizing the investigation of the so-called green fireballs seen in Los Alamos and other sensitive locations.

July 2, 1949 "Summary of Observations of Aerial Phenomena" from the G-2 Headquarters of the Fourth Army in Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

May 25, 1950 comprehensive report from Lt. Col. Doyle Rees, AFOSI's District Commander, to his boss, Brig. Gen. Joseph F. Carroll, USAF Director of Special Investigations, re., "Summary of Observations of Aerial Phenomena in the New Mexico Area, Dec. 1948 - May 1950."


Part Two
09 Aug, 2012

Hanford Nuclear Facilities 1960
© U.S. Department of EnergyAerial view of the Hanford nuclear facilities along the Columbia River in Washington State in 1960.
We publish the second installment of the original series, published in The News World's "UFO Supplement" in March 1982, under the pseudonym of A. Hovni. Based on then recently declassified documents from the USAF, FBI, AEC (Atomic Energy Commission) and other agencies released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), this article covered UFO incidents over restricted zones of the Hanford (Washington state) and Oak Ridge (Tennessee) atomic facilities in 1949 and 1950. It clearly showed some military and intelligence branches of the U.S. government were quite concerned about the UFO activity over sensitive atomic installations. Some of the FBI documents even use the "INTERNAL SECURITY - X" label, the now famous FBI X-Files, although the marking clearly indicates counter-intelligence matters and not the paranormal, as promoted decades later by the hit TV show.

Other than correcting typos and adding illustrations, the article was transcribed identical as it appeared on the newsstands in New York City in March 1982. We've also added some of the FBI, USAF OSI and AEC samples official documents cited in the article, so that you can read them in their own context.


The News World, New York City, March 6, 1982

Waves of UFOs buzzed vital U.S. atomic sites

Hanford, Oak Ridge facilities saw alerts

By A. Hovni
Special to The News World

Second in a three-part series

The U.S. Air Force was assuring the public in 1949 and 1950 that their so-called Project Saucer (actually code-named Project Sign first, later renamed Project Grudge and finally Project Bluebook) had been terminated and that the whole flying saucer scare had in essence ended, or was on its way to do so. Yet at the same time and unknown to the public, a number of government agencies ranging from the CIA and the FBI to the military and the Atomic Energy Commission, seemed quite concerned with the unpleasant fact that many of the nation's "vital installations" - such as the atomic plants and research facilities at Hanford, Wash. and Oak Ridge, Tenn. - had apparently become "targets" for unidentified flying objects.

Fighters scrambled in Hanford

F-82 Twin Mustang
© USAFAn F-82 Twin Mustang on the runway in 1952 of the type used by the USAF during UFO scramble missions at the Hanford and Oak Ridge atomic facilities in 1950.
Dr. J. Allen Hynek's book about the U.S. Air Force UFO files mentions an incident on May 21, 1949, when a flying disc "was observed in restricted air space over the Hanford Atomic Plant." The object was confirmed on radar and was sighted by the personnel at the Hanford radar station and an F-82 fighter from nearby Moses Lake AFB was scrambled, but was not able to locate the UFO which also vanished from the radar screen.

Another interesting declassified military document shows that there were other sightings reported at the Hanford AEC installations in Washington State, where radioactive waste material has been stored for years. Written by a Major U. G. Carlan and dated August 4, 1950, the memo states that "since 30 July 1950 objects, round in form, have been sighted over the Hanford AEC Plant. These objects reportedly were above 15,000 feet in altitude. Air Force jets attempted interception with negative results."

The incidents apparently caused quite a bit of stir. "All units including the anti-aircraft battalion, radar units, Air Force fighter squadrons, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation," continues the memo, "have been alerted for further observation. The Atomic Energy Commission states that the investigation is continuing and complete details will be forwarded later."

Less than three months later, on mid-October 1950, UFOs were buzzing once again over vital atomic installations for several days. This time, it was Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The Oak Ridge Flap

Oak Ridge Gas Diffusion Plant
© tonycoxhome.comThe Oak Ridge Gas Diffusion Plant in Tennessee, which played a key role in the Manhattan Project.
"Beginning at 2325, EST, 12 October 1950 a total of eleven (11) objects and possibly more appeared on the radar screen of the CPS-1 Air Force Radar Station at McGhee-Tyson Airport, Knoxville, Tennessee. The objects began appearing on the north edge of the Oak Ridge controlled area and proceeded south..." Thus begins a series of UFO reports and memoranda from and between the Air Force's 8th District Office of Special Investigation (AFOSI); the FBI's Special Agent in Charge (SAC) in Knoxville, Tenn.; the Army's Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) and the AEC's Security Patrols in Oak Ridge, concerning a number of UFOs sighted for several days on mid-October 1950 over one of the nerve centers of America's developing atomic industry.

FBI memo to Director Hoover
© FBIFeb. 18, 1949 FBI Memo to Director J. Edgar Hoover from Special Agent in Charge (SAC) in Knoxville, TN. Of particular interest is the label on “SUBJECT: ‘Flying Saucers’ Observed Over Oak Ridge Area – Internal Security – X.”
The Oct. 14, 1950 AFOSI document just quoted stated then that five minutes after the unidentified echoes appeared on the radar screen, the "controller at the radar station" gave orders to scramble "an F-82 fighter at 2330 and the fighter was airborne at 2339. (The pilot) vectored the plane on two (2) specific targets on stern approaches..." Although we told that "the fighter appeared to intercept the target on the ground radar screen," the F-82 crew, on the other hand, "observed no target either visually or on their airborne radar screen." Two more interesting points in this first document signed by the AFOSI Detachment Commander, William M. Price, are that the "CPS-1 radar set" had been checked that morning as usual, and the equipment was also checked "during and after the sightings and found to be in good operating condition." The other point was that the (name deleted) "pilot of the F-82, reported that he had made visual sightings earlier in the same evening at a distance of ten (10) to fifteen (15) miles."

In fact, a confidential Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) "Summary of Information," dated Oct. 21, 1950, concerning "Objects Sighted Over Oak Ridge, Tennessee," reveals that a UFO had been first sighted and photographed around that restricted area on June 1947, right at the beginning of the flying saucer modern era. The FBI memo quoted in our previous article, regarding the opinions of an army nuclear technician at Oak Ridge, gives further details about these photos. It says that after submitting it to thorough analysis, government experts determined "that the photographs were, without doubt, authentic."

The document also reveals that when the security authorities of Oak Ridge learned that the photographer had distributed several prints "among his acquaintances at Oak Ridge," orders were given immediately "to recover as many as possible of the photographs, advise the persons in whose possession they were found to say nothing to anyone concerning them, and to return the said photographs to him for transmission to the United States Air Force Intelligence Service." Although the photos would be later officially labeled "the result of accident or purposeful hoax," it is interesting to note that, according to the CIC Summary of Information, "some officials at Atomic Energy Commission question the veracity of this statement. They also believe it significant that the Air Force did not return the negative of this print."

Again in June 1949, and on every day between March 1st and 6th, 1950, there were new reports of UFOs flying over the restricted area of Oak Ridge. But the highest security alert would take place later on that year, on October 12, 13, 15 and 16, when several unidentified objects were both detected on radar and seen by a number of competent witnesses which included AEC security personnel and civilian employees at the AEC Oak Ridge facilities. Fighter jets were scrambled on at least two occasions, but "made unsuccessful passes" and "could see nothing."

The 2×5 metallic card

A precise description of one of the objects sighted on October 13, however, is summarized in one of the intelligence documents regarding the mini-nuke flap. By tabulating the visual observations of AEC Security Patrol Trooper, Edward Rymer; Mr. John Moneymaker, from the University of Tennessee Research Farm; Mr. E. W. Hightower, an electrician employed in the installations by the Maxon Construction Company; and Joe Zarzecki, Captain of the AEC Security Patrol, the government investigators arrived to the following sequence:

FBI document by William Gray
© FBIAnother FBI document with a “True copy” by Knoxville SAC William Gray, showing the radar penetration of UFOs within the “Boundary of Restricted Flying Zone over Pak Ridge, Tenn.
The object observed from the Kerr Hollow Gate in Oak Ridge's "Control Zone" appeared first as "an aircraft, trailing smoke, or better described as 'smoke writing'." When the object approached the ground, however, "it took on the shape of a bullet with a large tail." It was then described "to be approximately the size of a 2×5 card, with a twenty (20) foot ribbon tail. The object and the tail was alternately moving up and down, and the ribbon appeared to be waving in the breeze. The color was a metallic gray."

Finally, the document indicates that, "when Trooper Rymer came within fifty (50) feet of the object," he also observed that a section of the tail "appeared almost transparent and was glowing, intermittently in sections. The tail appeared to have four or five sections which would glow intermittently."

Another significant point is that at 3:20 p.m., exactly the same time when Messrs. Hightower and Moneymaker and Troopers Rymer and Zarzecki observed the card-looking metallic UFO from the Kerr Hollow Gate, "radar scopes at McGhee-Tyson Airport indicated unidentified targets," added the report, and a fighter jet was "scrambled" once again. Yet as we shall see in our next article, still more reports kept coming in, enough to keep a sizeable number of experts from the AFOSI, the CIC, the AEC and the FBI busy.

NEXT WEEK: More on the wave of UFO sightings over Oak Ridge and other atomic installations as recorded in previously top-secret intelligence documents - including one which provides a precisely detailed description and sketch of a flying saucer chased by a fighter pilot over the Belgian Congo.

The documents, contrary to the official position of debunking UFO sightings or saying the issue is not their concern, show the U.S. military to be deeply concerned and thoroughly involved in the mystery of UFOs.

Don't miss it!

Confidential Memorandum for Record by Major U. G. Carlan, dated Aug. 4, 1950, about UFO sightings 'over the Hanford AEC Plant.'

FBI 'X-File' Memo to Director Hoover, dated Jan. 2, 1949, about 'Flying Saucers' over Oak Ridge Area.

Oct. 14, 1950 Confidential Memo, 'SUBJECT: Unidentified Flying Objects over Oak Ridge, Tennessee,' filed by AFOSI Detachment Commander William M. Price.

Secret Summary of Information list compiled by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Security Office at Oak Ridge, dated Oct. 21, 1950, concerning the mini-UFO flap at the restricted atomic installations.


Part Three

Nuclear power plant
UFOs over atomic plants

23 Aug, 2012

We publish the third and last installment of the original series that appeared in The News World's "UFO Supplement" in March 1982, under the pseudonym of A. Hovni. Based on then recently declassified documents from the USAF, FBI, AEC (Atomic Energy Commission) and other agencies released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), this article continues with the UFO mini-flap over the restricted zone of the Oak Ridge atomic facilities in Tennessee in 1950; as well as CIA documents about sightings over uranium mines in the Belgian Congo (currently the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in central Africa; and more flying saucer activity monitored by the FBI, this time over the Savannah River Plant managed by the AEC in South Carolina.

We transcribed the article identically as it appeared in The News World on March 6, 1982, correcting only typos and adding illustrations and some of the official documents discussed in the story.


The News World, New York City, March 6, 1982

UFOs blitz atom sites paper
UFO blitz over atomic sites sparked U.S. alert

Intelligence agencies began secret research

By A. Hovni
Special to The News World

Last in a three-part series

We covered in our previous article the beginnings of the October 1950 UFO flap over the sensitive atomic installations at Oak Ridge, Tenn., which would cause considerable alarm in various U.S. government agencies. On Oct. 12 and 13 of that year, unidentified objects were observed visually by Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) security personnel while unidentified echoes were detected by the Air Force Radar Station at McGhee-Tyson Airport in Knoxville, Tenn. F-82 fighter jets were scrambled on both occasions.

The authorities were still sorting out the evidence of these initial incidents when, at 3:20 p.m. on Oct. 16, AEC troopers John Isabell, Lendelle Clark and Hank Briggs, and two other witnesses observed "objects hovering over the K-25 plant at Oak Ridge, Tenn." (See AEC Patrol Incident Report by trooper John Isabell for a complete description of the sighting in the words of the principal witness).

AEC patrol incident Report
AEC Patrol Incident Report with the testimony of Trooper John L. Isabell on October 16, 1950.
A shorter description is given by AEC troopers Lendelle Clark and Hank Briggs, who were stopped by Isabell at the Blair Gate to show them "an object in the north that was traveling toward the northwest." Their description stated that the UFO "looked to be at about 2,000 feet in the air and a white-silverish looking color, rotating in a counterclockwise manner. It was round in shape and going up in a rather fast motion." The witnesses also noticed that the round object "looked the size of a ball" and "seemed to come in sight and then disappear."

Y-12 area Oak Ridge
© nicap.orgAerial view of the “Y-12” Area at Oak Ridge. This nuclear installation in Tennessee was the site of many UFO incidents in the late 40s and early 50s.
Trooper Isabell phoned headquarters immediately, and he reported that "fifteen minutes after the object disappeared into the northeast, an F-82 Fighter plane showed up in the area where the object was last seen, but appeared to be thousands of feet lower than the object which troopers Clark, Briggs and the undersigned saw and reported." This third Air Force "scramble" with F-82s with one or two days difference between them is confirmed by another document, an Army Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) evaluation of the UFO sightings over Oak Ridge. The document states that "a fighter aircraft from the 5th Fighter Sqd. was sent to identify an object which was reported to be hovering over K-25," but that "the radar equipment aboard the aircraft got an image on its scope" that the pilot finally "identified as a light-type aircraft." Yet the Army evaluation also indicates that "ground observers state that the fighter plane passed beneath the object which they were observing." The report finally states that "the Security Division, Atomic Energy Commission, will attempt to have the observers, make the same statements while undergoing a polygraph test."

The final evaluation

AEC guards Oak Ridge
© Ed Westcott/Wikimedia CommonsAEC guards at the Elza Gate in Oak Ridge in the 1940s. It was guards like these who reported a series of UFO sightings in 1950 which were thoroughly investigated by the AEC, AFOSI, Army CIC, and FBI.
Undoubtedly, one of the most interesting documents regarding the UFO flap over Oak Ridge is a "Summary of Information" prepared by the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC). Dated Oct. 21, 1950, it was distributed to the commanding general and the G-2 Section of the Third Army, the AEC Security Division, the FBI and AFOSI. Right from the beginning, the document indicates that "the most reliable sources available were utilized" and that the witnesses' employment and FBI records "were inspected to ascertain their reliability, integrity and loyalty to the United States government."

The document indicates next that a number of government agencies were consulted, including the AEC Security Division and Security Patrol at Oak Ridge, the Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft (NEPA) Division, the FBI, AFOSI and the AF Radar Station and Fighter Squadrons in the Knoxville area. Yet CIC concluded that the opinions of all these officials "fail to evolve an adequate explanation for SUBJECT" (Capital letters in the original). Although they mention all the Air Force's favorite debunking gimmicks popular in those days, such as mass hysteria, birds, balloons, insect swarms, flying kites, insanity, etc., the document states in no uncertain terms that all these explanations "have been rejected because of the simultaneous witnessing of the objects with the reported radar sightings; because of the detailed, similar descriptions of the objects seen by different persons; and because of impossibility."

Less than two months after this authoritative report was written, in early December of that same year, 1950, UFOs were back on the radar screens near Oak Ridge. One FBI teletype informed that Army Intelligence "have been put on immediate high alert for any data whatsoever concerning flying saucers," and that the Army's CIC "advises data strictly confidential and should not be disseminated." Another FBI teletype from director J. Edgar Hoover instructs that, "arrangements should be made to obtain all facts concerning possible radar jamming by ionization of particles in atomic atmosphere."

From the Belgian Congo...

Shinkolobwe uranium mine Belgian Congo
© Shinkolobwé uranium mine in the Belgian Congo in the late 50s. This mine provided uranium ore for the Manhattan Project.
To the extent that flying saucers exploded into the great flap of 1952, so did the concern of the CIA and other government agencies to process and store UFO reports from all over the world. From the CIA's worldwide reporting network of UFO sightings established in 1952, comes an interesting report obtained from Die Presse in Vienna, concerning "two fiery disks sighted over the uranium mines in the southern part of the Belgian Congo [now Zaire] in the Elizabethville district." According to the press report, "the disks glided in elegant curves and changed their position many times." Duration of the sighting was between 10 and 12 minutes, and the objects "appeared as plates, ovals and simply lines."

Despite its remoteness, this sighting had at least one competent witness in the person of Commander Pierre of the small Elizabethville airfield, who "immediately set out in pursuit with a fighter plane." Cmdr. Pierre chased the two saucers for about 15 minutes, and at one point he reached a distance of only 120 meters from one of the discs. He described it as a "discus-shaped" object, 12 to 15 meters in diameter, consisting of an "absolutely still inner core" connected through a knob with "several small openings" to an "outer rim (which) was completely veiled in fire and must have had an enormous speed of rotation. The color of the metal was similar to that of aluminum." According to Cmdr. Pierre's estimate, the saucers were flying at about 1,500 kilometers per hour "in a precise and light manner, both vertically and horizontally," until they disappeared from his view "in a straight line toward Lake Tanganyka." Another CIA document regarding aerial phenomena in the Congo indicated that by 1955, "the UFOs are coming more and more over this country." the Savannah River plant

A May 12, 1952 urgent teletype from the FBI office in Savannah to director J. Edgar Hoover in Washington indicated that on May 10, at approximately 10:45 p.m., "four employees of Dupont Co., employed on Savannah River Plant near Ellenton, S.C., saw four disc-shaped objects approaching the four-hundred area from the south, disappearing in a northerly direction." For the next half hour or so, four more objects buzzed the area, flying both in pairs and singles.

Heavy water conponent test reactor
© US Department of EnergyHeavy Water Component Test Reactor, Savannah River Site, Aiken, South Carolina.
This incident in another restricted area, the Savannah River Plant managed by the AEC, apparently disturbed Hoover somewhat, since he sent a memo to the Air Force's director of special investigations at the Pentagon on May 15, 1952, five days after the sightings. Copies were also sent to the Army's G-2 assistant chief-of-staff, the director of naval intelligence and the director of security, AEC. Based on data furnished by the bureau's Savannah office, Hoover writes that, "the disks were described by the above-mentioned employees as being approximately fifteen inches in diameter and tallow to gold in color. All of the objects were allegedly traveling at a high rate of speed and at a high altitude, without any noise."

UFO sightings over atomic reactors and other sensitive military and industrial installations have not diminished in more recent years, either. During the 1973 UFO wave, for example, UFOs were seen again in the vicinity of the nuclear installations in Oak Ridge, Tenn. In December of that year, Howard Whetsel and R. Clough filmed on a 300-foot, 16 mm color film over 30 sightings of UFOs flying over Oak Ridge. I have never seen the film, but both NICAP and Ground Saucer Watch have declared it "bona fide."

Another series of sightings took place during the same flap in South County, Rhode Island. According to ufologist Ronald Todd from APRO, of 66 sightings in the area, 47 were reported around Wood River Junction, where the United Nuclear Uranium Recovery Plant is located. In one particular incident, two UFOs hovered alternately over the plant for almost three hours. In another incident, witnessed by Todd himself, a UFO was chased by six helicopters and a radar plane. "A lot seemed to center around the nuclear plant," concluded Todd. And there is still the well known UFO "invasion" of several Strategic Air Command nuclear bases over a two-week period in late 1975.

* * *

Update since original publication

Of course there are many more UFO cases near nuclear power plants that took place since this series of articles was published originally in 1982. On June 14 and then again on July 24, 1984, barely two years after publication of these articles, one of the best known UFO incidents over atomic facilities occurred when "a huge elongated solid structure" was seen by security guards at Reactor No. 3 of the Indian Point Atomic Power Plants in Buchanan, just north of New York City. The details are described in the chapter "Close Encounters at Indian Point" in Night Siege - The Hudson Valley UFO Sightings, which was Dr. Hynek's last book, co-authored with Philip Imbrogno and Bob Pratt. Although the security guards were interviewed for this book, no official documents have ever emerged regarding this case. The late Col. Colman von Keviczky, director of ICUFON in New York, contacted the NY Power Authority, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC, which replaced the AEC), the Department of Energy, and other agencies in an attempt to obtain files under the FOIA, but was basically given a polite run-around but no papers about the Indian Point UFO incidents.

The next important case occurred on the evening of March 4, 1988 on Lake Erie, near the Perry Nuclear Power Plant in Ohio, 40 miles northeast of Cleveland. This case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), which described it in a document as "a large object hovering over the lake," which "apparently dispersed 3-5 smaller flying objects that were zipping around rather quickly" and "had the ability to stop and hover in mid flight." This interesting case is described in some detail in a famous article by UFO historian Richard Dolan, "Twelve Government Documents That Take UFOs Seriously," posted by Open Minds. We've also included the USCG report in the list of sample official documents below.

The appearance of UFOs over nuclear power plants is certainly not restricted to the U.S. In their book UFO Case Files of Russia, authors Paul Stonehill and Philip Mantle included two chapters titled "UFOs over Soviet Nuclear Installations" and "UFOs over Chernobyl." The UFO allegations surrounding the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl in Ukraine in April 1986 are particularly intriguing. The chapter provides the testimony of two power plant technicians, who "observed a fiery sphere in the sky...Two bright raspberry-coloured rays shot out from the UFO and were directed at the reactor of Unit 4." According to Mantle and Stonehill, readings taken by the technicians right before and after the appearance of the UFO showed a dramatic decrease of the radiation level. Other sightings and even a couple of photos were taken in 1990 and 1991.

Bohunice nuclear power plant
© MarkBA/Wikimedia CommonsCooling towers of the Bohunice Nuclear Power Plant in Slovakia, site of a UFO flap in the early 90s.
Another UFO flap over an atomic power plant occurred in Slovakia in 1992, specifically at the Bohunice Nuclear Power Plant in the village of Javlovské Bohunice in western Slovakia's Trnava District. According to a report published in Hungary's Ufomagazin in 1994, on the early hours of August 21, 1992, a security guard reported to his supervisor "the appearance of a flying object around the entrance gate of the plant. It was about 300 meters in diameter, triangular in form and hovering at an altitude of 500 meters." The eyewitness could not identify the object with any familiar aircraft and no noise was heard. Other guards also saw the object over the gate and reported that something had landed outside the plant. Burnt marks were found on the field on the following morning. This was followed by other incidents, which led about 25 workers at the Bohunice plant to create their own UFO Club to document the flap!

Finally, an Argentinean UFO hunter called Cristián Soldano reported and filmed unexplained lights which he called "UFO flashes" near the Atucha nuclear power reactor in Buenos Aires province in June 2010. His story and footage was published and broadcast by Argentina's media, including Soldano's claims that "these objects were reacting to our signals" (he uses a protocol similar to Dr. Greer's C-SETI) and were seen on the road leading to the Atucha plant. There were also some reports and YouTube videos of alleged UFO activity during the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, following the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. Although there are several YouTube videos showing possible UFOs, I have not seen more solid reports documenting these cases. But even if we don't count Fukushima, the evidence outlined in this series clearly establishes a link between UFO activity and nuclear power plants. Their intentions and its implications remain elusive, but the evidence should not be ignored and ought to be researched more in depth.

Army Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) Summary of Information, "Subject: Objects Sighted over Oak Ridge," dated October 17, 1950.

CIA reports including a translation of a Vienna newspaper article, "Flying Saucers over Belgian Congo Uranium Mines," from 1952; and a "Report of Unidentified Flying Objects" in the Belgian Congo from 1956.

FBI "urgent" teletype about UFO sightings at the AEC Savannah River Plant, May 12, 1952; and a memo by Director J. Edgar Hoover to the Air Force Director of Special Investigations on the same subject, May 15, 1952.

US Coast Guard "Incident Report: Unidentified Flying Objects," mentioning an incident "1/4 mile east of CEI Power Plant" from March 1988.