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Homer Simpson let loose on US nuclear weapons facility

OK, hand me that drill.... Doh!

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Homer Simpson has apparently relinquished his post at Springfield nuclear plant to take up a new position with US Energy Department's Pantex plant in Texas.

Our suspicions are aroused because the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board has reported that workers at the Amarillo complex nearly totalled the Lone Star State twice while dismantling old nuclear warheads.

In the first incident, highly-skilled operatives inadvertently drilled into the warhead's core, provoking a full-scale evacuation of Pantex. They later made a second Chernobylesque blunder by bodging a highly-explosive warhead part back together with tape.

Had they subsequently dropped the component, the likely outcome would have been a "violent reaction", with "potentially unacceptable consequences", as safety board chairman John T. Conway rather conservatively put it.

Pantex is operated by BWX Technologies Inc. The facility's website assures visitors that BWXT Pantex is "Maintaining the safety, security and reliability of America's nuclear weapons stockpile" through "Teamwork that delivers... Results!".

Presumably the ... represents the slight delay between the team dropping the warhead and then delivery of the Results! in the form of Texas reduced to an irradiated wilderness for 10,000 years.

There is, mercifully, some hope that that Texans will not in future be obliged to check their steak and fries with a Geiger Counter since the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board has an inspector permanently stationed at Pantex. We're certain he's ensuring they buck up their ideas; but if he should turn out to be Sideshow Bob, here is BWXT's cut-out-and-keep guide to what you should do once the sirens sound, entitled "WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE ADVISED TO TAKE SHELTER" and culled from Pantex's entertaining Managing Emergency Events:

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE ADVISED TO TAKE SHELTER

To protect yourself, you need to avoid physical contact with radioactive materials and avoid inhaling them:

Stay indoors in your home, work place, or a nearby building. Once inside, do not leave unless you are told it is safe to go out or you are advised by your emergency management officials or law enforcement personnel to evacuate.

Close all windows, doors, and fireplace dampers. This keeps outside air from entering your home or work place.

Turn off any heating or cooling system that draws in air from the outside. If it becomes stuffy, use portable or ceiling fans to circulate the air inside.

If you have been outside during the period just before you were warned to take shelter, take a shower or at least wash your face and hands with a washcloth using soap and tepid water. Change into clean clothes; put the clothing you were wearing and the washcloth into a plastic bag.

Keep your radio on and tuned to one of the local EBS stations- KGNC-AM (710) or KGNC-FM (97.9). Listen for information and instructions

Begin to assemble items you may need in case you are advised to evacuate.

If you must go outdoors, cover your nose and mouth with a damp cloth to avoid inhaling any radioactive materials that might be present.



Top advice. On the other hand, you could just join Homer down at Moe's, rack up a few beers, and wait for your skin to fall off. ®

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