June 24, 1990
Church Scriptures Get High-Tech Protection
By Robert W. Welkos and Joel Sappell, Times Staff Writers
Scientology is determined that the words of L. Ron Hubbard shall live forever.
Using state-of-the art technology, the movement has spent more than $15 million to protect Hubbard's original writings, tape-recorded lectures and filmed treatises from natural and man-made calamities, including nuclear holocaust.
The effort illustrates two fundamental truths about the Scientology movement: It believes in its future and it never does anything halfheartedly.
In charge of the preservation task is the Church of Spiritual Technology, which functions as archivist for Hubbard's works.
It has a staff -- but no congregation -- and its fiscal 1987 income was $503 million, according to court documents filed by the church.
The organization has purchased rural land in New Mexico, Northern California and San Bernardino Mountains to store the Hubbard gospel.
According to Church of Spiritual Technology documents, the New Mexico site has a 670-foot tunnel with two deep vaults at the end. The tunnel is protected with thick concrete and has four doors with "maintenance-free lives of 1,000 years."
Three of the doors purportedly will be "nuclear blast resistant."
All this to house mere copies of the original works, which include 500,000 pages of Hubbard writings, 6,500 reels of tape and 42 films.The originals themselves are being kept under tight security on a sprawling Scientology complex near Lake Arrowhead.
While details of the facility are sketchy, a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy, who requested anonymity, said the group has burrowed a huge tunnel into a mountainside.
At the Arrowhead repository, sophisticated methods are being used to prepare Hubbard's works for the bomb-proof vaults. Here, according to Scientology officials and documents, is the process:
First, the original writings are chemically treated to rid the paper of acid that causes deterioration. Next, they are placed in plastic envelopes that church officials say will last 1,000 years.
From there, they are packaged in titanium "time capsules" filled with argon gas to further aid preservation.
Hubbard's writings also are being etched onto stainless steel plates with a strong acid. Scientology officials said the plates are so durable that they can be sprayed with salt water for 1,000 years and not deteriorate.
As for Hubbard's taped lectures, they are being re-recorded onto special "pure gold" compact discs encased in glass that, according to Scientology archvists, are "designed to last at least 1,000 years with no deterioration of sound quality."