Thar she blows!

OK, maybe that headline is a tad overblown given the size of Texas, but given most people have forgotten we have nukes sitting around the country it’s rather disconcerting that one could have accidentally blown up. Or that nuke bomb techs being overworked!

Mishap in dismantling nuclear warhead

A watchdog group charges a nuclear warhead nearly exploded in Texas when it was being dismantled at the government’s Pantex facility near Amarillo.

The Project on Government Oversight says it has been told by knowledgeable experts that the warhead nearly detonated in 2005 because an unsafe amount of pressure was applied while it was being disassembled, The Austin American-Statesman reports.

The U.S. Energy Department fined the plant’s operators $110,000 last month.

An investigator for Project on Government Oversight says the weapon involved was a W-56 warhead with 100 times the destructive power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

The watchdog group says the problem was caused in part by technicians at the plant being required to work up to 72 hours each week.

They released an anonymous letter, reportedly sent by Pantex employees, warning that long hours and efforts to increase output were causing dangerous conditions at the plant.

A spokesperson for the Energy Department declined to respond to safety complaints in the letter.

  1. gquaglia says:

    Damn, too bad texas wasn’t wiped off the map, would have instantly raised the collective IQ of this country substantially.

    Too bad it wasn’t California. We could have instantly rid the country of thousands of hippy liberal douches. And don’t forget Hollywood. Its a win win situation.

  2. giap says:

    So, which is it you love about Amarillo, malren (11)? The stink from the feedlots or the John Birch Society billboards?

    The Big Texan ain’t bad and my brother-in-law ate the monster steak and few years back — and lived — and got it for free. Cadillac Ranch has been cleaned (at least once) of all the purile redneck graffiti and is worth photographing, once in a while.

    But, malren loves ascribing motives to others that he dreams of in his self-congratulating sleep. He would only immolate “furriners”.

  3. Mucous says:

    I’ve always loved that picture. Would love to find a film of it sometime. Nukes are so cool.

    If risking an accident is the price of having such a necessary tool then so be it.

  4. Mr. Fusion says:

    these bombs have fallen off of plains and have not detonated…

    Well goodness to Betsy !!! I hope not !!! To fall off the plains would be a real feat. Geeze, I live on the Great Plains here in Indiana and there ain’t no down from here unless you’re a drunken bum.

    I am from Texas and my mommy says I are the smartest husband she has ever had
    Comment by PMitchell — 12/17/2006 @ 11:50 am

    ’nuff said from the expert.

  5. Jägermeister says:


    Thanks Mr. Fusion… that post made my evening! 😀

  6. Jägermeister says:

    #32 – Too bad it wasn’t California. We could have instantly rid the country of thousands of hippy liberal douches.

    And one conservative dude named Schwarzenegger. 😉

  7. ECA says:

    considering that its in the pan handle…

    HOW many locations int eh US would have nuke fall out??

  8. Reality says:

    >>>wow, the technicians who disassemble atom bombs have to work almost as many hours as the residents who work on human beings in hospitals! good thing both jobs have a wide margin of error, without serious consequences for mistakes.

    So, you are saying that one overworked person blowing up millions of people equates to one overworked doctor killing one person?

    Some of you people [edited] probably have never been to the state you are commenting on.

  9. ECA says:

    I just figure that it would raise the intelligence level of the WHOLE STATE..
    Texas is more commercial then any other, and can you guess WHOM was the govenor?? ANd I think he LIVES int he panhandle area.

  10. Smartalix says:

    16, 22, 26,

    Actually, there is an in-between situation where a nuke could “partially” blow up. As some of you point out, unless the shaped charge that surrounds the plutonium core explodes in exactly the right way, the warhead will not explode. However, if the shaped charge is intact and is triggered from one side, the pressure wave could cause a nuclear “squib” where a reaction starts but does not have sufficient containment to continue.

    In such a case you would get an explosion of a couple hundred tons of TNT, far short of a multi-megaton blast but pretty devastating and also very toxic as the remaining plutonium (99%+) would be vaporized and spread widely.

    So you are both right and wrong. Right in that you wouldn’t get a big explosion, but wrong that an accident would be of no consequence.

  11. Roc Rizzo says:

    The only thing that I heard about Texas that comes close to this is that Texas is changing its name to Tex. That’s because the other part is in DC now.

  12. Booya says:

    Unless George Bush came with the land in 1845, the last part of that name is still tatooed on your forehead.

  13. Brian says:


    What’s your problem with California? The fact it’s supplanted your home state as the biggest in both population and in economy?

    I’ve heard texans have wanted to secede for some time now – chop chop! Let’s make it happen!

  14. Layci says:

    I am from Amarillo and I find it disheartening to realize that some of you have no consideration for the tragedy that could have occured to numerous amounts of people here in the GREAT state of Texas. I don’t seem to recall anyone from around here making comments about how “we got rid of a bunch of damn yankees” when 9/11 occured! How could some of you be so cruel towards the people of this nation simply because we happen to be from Texas? Pantex is a vital part of our community here in Amarillo and the surrounding areas. We were brought up knowing about the dangers that come with living near such a dangerous facility and many of my friends and neighbors are employees there. They all go to great lengths to make sure that the panhandle of Texas (and it’s surrounds areas) are safe and continue to stay that way. It’s easy to make-fun at our expense when it doesn’t affect you personally, so from someone who it DOES affect personally, I’ll say a prayer for you tonight that someday something like this never affects you, your children, your families or your friends like it has mine.

  15. Odyssey67 says:

    @ Smartalix: Your comment ably clarifies what I was getting at. I didn’t think it was neccessary to get so specific, but since reading at least one of the posts since, I guess I was wrong. Good job.

    @ GregA: What exactly can I “confirm” on an anonymous blog? I could tell you I’ve worked at Los Alamos for 6 years and have a PhD in Physics from Cornell – or I could be a janitor in Albuquerque who dropped out of college. How would you know the difference?

    And what difference would it make to the fact that setting off a W59 warhead, in any way that actually results in a complete thermonuclear reaction, is not a “Whoops” proposition? It either goes off as it was designed to and 10 MTs of Hell are unleashed on Earth, or it doesn’t and you get something quite a bit less. If it were so easy to make a nuke work, we’d have a hell of a lot more nuclear states than we already do, and they would have arrived on the scene a lot sooner. And, as someone else already mentioned, we’d have already seen one go off by now, as there have been many nuclear weapons accidents over the years – both in this country and in the USSR.

    So you want confirmation? What I can tell you, after reading your posts, is that you don’t know nearly as much of what your talking about here as you’d like us to think. That – for me, anyway – IS confirmed.

  16. Reality says:

    All I know is that a facility like Pantex that deals with the assembly of nuclear weapons is the last place on Earth that should be lacking in daily work procedure and rules. We would like to keep the “panhandle” intact and not increase the size of Palo Duro Canyon, if you know what I mean.


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