Basically, last year the government was dismantling a really old nuclear warhead at the Pantex facility near Amarillo, they had some trouble, and to save time and money, they abandoned the safety protocol and used so much force that the device could have detonated. It was a W-56 1,200 kiloton warhead bearing 100 times the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. So in a sense it's like the government took a hammer to a nuclear device to save some time and money, caution be damned.
Sounds pretty bad, right? Call me crazy, but it reminds me of the Iraq War and Occupation:
- The Project on Government Oversight watchdog group said the "near miss," which led the Energy Department to fine the plant's operator $110,000, was caused in part by technicians at the plant being required to work up to 72 hours per week.
(By the way, as commenters on AMERICAblog pointed out, with a population of 173,627, that's less than a dollar per person, and counting the inflation rate and injury to those in surrounding areas, less than one cent per person affected.)
Troops in Iraq, underpaid.
- The organization said it was told by unidentified experts "knowledgeable about this event" that the accident, in which an unsafe amount of pressure was applied to the warhead, could have caused it to explode.
Shock and Awe, but no Plan for Peace? (We'll just militarize the Freedom into marching...)
- The group also released an anonymous letter, purportedly sent by Pantex employees, warning that long hours and efforts to increase output were causing dangerous conditions in the plant.
So said the Military Generals.
- "Most production technicians work five 10-hour days, plus weekends," the letter states. "Our safety analysts get pounded on a daily basis to support the production schedule and are expected at times to work around-the-clock.
Again, the military, including the National Guard, is over-extended. The rules that have long been in place to protect the troops have been rewritten; some are facing their fifth tour of (suicide mission in) Iraq.
- "And this is BEFORE we take the insane step of trying to complete work on 50 percent more units this fiscal year," it says. However, records show that the department last month fined BWX Technologies Inc., the company that operates Pantex under a contract with the department, $110,000 for the accident and for another incident involving the same warhead.
Can you say Korea? How about Vietnam?
- In a letter to Dan Swaim, BWX general manager of the plant, the Energy Department said the company had "significantly delayed" disclosing the incidents and then submitted a "factually inaccurate and incomplete" report.
Notice the government taking responsibility? Notice how we're taking steps to actually make America safer? Notice a pattern?