A Russian spy satellite photo from 1988 apparently shows that large amounts of soil had been recently removed from an area just north of the Project 57 contaminated zone in Area 13.
However, cleanup of the Project 57 site was still a concern during environmental studies in the late 1990s. A preliminary site characterization was completed in 1998 and a complete assessment of plutonium cleanup was scheduled for FY 1999.
According to Steve L. Hoeffner et al (Clemson University-Research Park) and Richard Smalley (Waste Policy Institute, Savanna River Research Campus) in Evaluation of Remediation Methods for Plutonium Contaminated Soil, "a limited amount of data is available for the Area 13 soils," and cleanup of the site is a "low priority."
Area 51 Panorama Taken from Tikaboo Peak on August 7, 2005
This Area 51 panorama was taken under exceptionally good viewing conditions in the early morning hours of August 7, 2005 from the top of Tikaboo Peak. It is by far the best and as of this writing the most recent Area 51 Panorama from Tikaboo Peak ever published. The panorama is split into three segments, going from south to north.
The panorama was assembled from 16 individual photos, taken with a Canon D-60 digital camera mounted to a Celestron C-5 spotting scope. The effective focal length was 2000mm. The full-sized panorama is 1/4-meter resolution.
This section shows some remote facilities at the far south end of the base. Moving from left to right (south to north):
The two light-colored buildings in the background on the left are the Engine Test Cells. This is where new jet engines are tested. Due to noise and the possibility of an explosion it makes sense to have them as far away from the main base as possible. The scraped area behind the left Test Cell is a waste burial site. It has not changed much since 1995, and it is not clear whether it is still in use.
Further to the right, the circular area with the long light-colored building is the Explosives Storage Area. Notice that the entire area is surrounded by a mound of dirt to protect the rest of the base in case of an accident.
In front of the Explosives Storage you can see the south end of the two runways and the southern taxiway and holding pad. Two red-and-white arresting devices, designed to catch planes that are about to overshoot the runway, can be seen at the south end of the new runway (14L/32R).
Further over to the right, at the foot of Papoose Mountain, is a large scraped area. This is a large gravel pit and concrete plant. It supplies the building material for new construction at the base, such as runway extensions etc. This photo shows that what looks like an underground tunnel entrance in older panoramas and satellite images is really a truck ramp, where trucks dump their load onto the conveyor below. There is a large parking area for construction vehicles on the far right side of this segment.
In front of the gravel pit is the South Trim Pad, where engine tests and adjustments are performed. Clearly visible the jet deflector and the South Pad Weather Office.