Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Where do Warheads Go When they Die?

Alternative Title: On Why I Am Ecstatic About Not Living in Amarillo, TX

I, to use the vernacular, <3 Foreign Policy Magazine. It's the one publication where government, policy and socio-economic issues in countries as diverse as Congo, Uzbekistan, Germany & East Timor are dealt with equally and objectively. And since material is contributed by academics and/or experts in their particular field, there is no stink of party politics either. Happily, no one has yet labeled FP with the doomsday preacher epithet.

Even when it publishes an article on the shelf-life and dismantling of nuclear weapons.

It's worth reading, in its entirety. Jeffrey Lewis has commendable credits, and Meri Lugo is one of those bright young intern types who I occasionally dream of becoming.

And for those of you curious about the safety measures undertaken by Pantex to ensure future generations of the good people of Amarillo aren't born with extra fingers and three purple tentacles, do pay a visit to the What to Do in Case of an Emergency at Pantex page. The instructions are a step-by-step approach to dealing with a nuclear apocalypse. What's most terrifying is, they aint kiddin'.

I bet OSHA pays them a bunch of visits. In 2000, reports were filed with the DOE regarding apparent ground water contamination at Pantex:

One report focusing on the plant's groundwater monitoring program confirms last year Pantex Plant operators did not follow DOE procedures, resulting in an approximate nine month delay in notifying senior managers and the public of newly discovered groundwater contamination at the site.


And for the conspiracy-theory enthusiasts, visit these good people for the whole scoop: they provide you with fun facts-- You'll be the life of a party!-- just like this one:

A 1996 study by the US Department of Health and the Texas Department of Health found higher than normal cancer rates in the counties surrounding Pantex. Although the report failed to link the high cancer rate to activities at Pantex, local citizens believe otherwise. One resident keeps a map of the nearby city of Panhandle with straight pins marking the cases of cancer in the town between 1975 and 1994. For a town with a population of only 2,300, over 400 people have been stricken with some sort of cancer.

It makes me wonder about similar facilities elsewhere in the world: where else is water being contaminated, and do those facilities have a contingency plan in case of a plant mishap?

More reasons why I am not fond of things that go boom.