But risks aside, Project Oilsand probably would have worked.
The bomb would have been detonated about 370 metres underground. For a split second, the power of the explosion would vaporize a massive underground pocket jacket by a hollow orb of glass. Then the orb would have imploded, ripping a crater in the boreal forest above.
As heat radiated through the chilled Northern Alberta soil, oil rigs would have sprung to life to churn out warm, slightly radioactive Alberta bitumen. As with nuclear fallout, the radiation would then have dissipated over time.
If the concept behind Project Oilsand had entered commercial production, however, it would have required a regular stream of atomic explosions to keep the heated oil from congealing.
In an atomically mined Alberta, being woken up by nuclear earthquakes would have become a regular feature of working as an oil rigger, and the Athabasca region would have become identifiable for its landscape of spherical craters.
The blasts would almost certainly have posed immediate health risks to Northern Albertans.
Atomic bitumen mining would also have been incredibly wasteful: untold barrels of oil would need to be blasted into oblivion for every barrel piped to the surface — and at a time when many Alberta oilmen already saw themselves as drowning in an oil glut. Billions of dollars of the provinces’ most easily accessible oil could have been needlessly vaporized.