December 20, 2006

A Giant Boom, or What Almost Happened in Amarillo

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingApparently, things aren't going to so well at Pantex where they are tasked with dissembling cold war relics more popularly known as nuclear warheads. While taking apart a nuke during 2004, the plant took extraordinary risks with a device that could have incincerated the large Pantex nuclear facility, caused severe damage to Amarillo as well as contaminating a broad section of the Pandhandle.

Weekly reports have noted a series of violations of authorized procedures. On Nov. 27, the company was fined $110,000 for safety violations involving excessive force used in 2004 in disassembling a W56 nuclear bomb — an old design that lacks modern safety features.

Despite ordering an investigation, Bodman said that the Energy Department had "confidence that Pantex will continue its outstanding work, while keeping stringent safety and security policies in place."

So, basically, we have a situation where people are trying to take apart a nuclear weapon with a sledgehammer. Excellent. Instead of dealing with the problem and the contractor who is making people work 70 and 80 hour weeks, the Energy Dept. calls the work 'outstanding' and does fuck all to correct the problems.

This is all via NTL which tied the story in with a great one also in the LATimes regarding Connecticut native Bush's brill idea to make stolen nukes useless. Of course, the best thing would be to keep them out of the hands of terrorists in the first place. Though it may come as a suprise to you, someone else thought that as well

"The real threat is the uranium and plutonium materials that are spread across the country in totally inappropriate places and inadequate facilities," said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington group that has long criticized security at Energy Department sites. "So, rather than fixing the problem they have, they are trying to fix a problem they don't have." ... "The secret to avoiding an unauthorized nuclear detonation is maintaining custody of the weapon," said Bob Peurifoy, a retired vice president at Sandia National Laboratory who helped to pioneer use controls during the Cold War.

If I were President, I'd listen to the guy from Sandia. Of course, I'm not which may explain why, instead of securing the facilities, the government is working ardently to make nukes 'terrorist safe' since they will surely end up with one eventually. Oh, and praising the work of a company that employs someone who takes apart a nuke kinda like Lennie would.

Posted by mcblogger at December 20, 2006 09:02 AM

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