Wildfires Force Nuclear Weapons Facility in Texas to Shut Down

February 28, 2024 Hour: 8:30 am

On Tuesday night, Pantex Plant, a major nuclear weapons facility in the United States, suspended its operation due to the raging wildfires.


Wildfires in California Threaten Natural Habitats

An out-of-control wildfire in the Texas Panhandle prompted evacuation orders in small towns and shut down Pantex, a plant that is located 21 miles east of Amarillo and assembles and disassembles the country’s nuclear arsenal.

All weapons and special materials are safe and unaffected, according to a statement from Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS), which runs Pantex together with the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

“Currently, we are responding to the plant, but there is no fire on our site or on our boundary,” said Laef Pendergraft, a nuclear safety engineer with the NNSA production office at Pantex.

“We have evacuated our nonessential personnel from the site, just in abundance of caution, but we do have a well-equipped fire department that has trained for these scenarios. We are monitoring the scene,” he added.

Meanwhile, Amarillo Globe-News reported that an undisclosed incident occurred at 6:13 p.m. at the Pantex Plant, citing a statement from CNS and NNSA.

According to the report, CNS and NNSA officials are directing response efforts, adding that appropriate precautionary protection actions have been initiated for Pantex employees. It is not immediately clear whether it is connected with the raging wildfires.

On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for 60 counties in response to wildfires and said more counties could be added. He warned that hot and dry conditions are expected to continue in the region in the coming days, raising fears that the wildfires may grow larger and more dangerous.

The Smokehouse Creek Fire has burnt more than 250,000 acres of land in just 28 hours, roughly 150 acres per minute, the Texas A&M Forest Service informed, adding that the fire already ranked as the fifth-largest wildfire in Texas history.

Several other blazes were raging nearby, including the Grape Vine Creek Fire, which has scorched 30,000 acres and was 20 percent contained as of Tuesday afternoon.

Hemphill and Roberts counties in northern Texas issued evacuation orders as the fire approached populated areas on Tuesday afternoon.

In the city of Pampa, Gray County, authorities went door-to-door to suggest a voluntary evacuation on Tuesday evening due to the threat of the fast-spreading wildfires. Pampa officials said that buses would be offered for people who need help evacuating the city.

The Canadian Independent School District announced that all public schools in the area will be closed on Wednesday. Nearby Pampa, residents in the cities of Amarillo and Canadian have been urged to shelter in place.

Autor: teleSUR/ JF

Fuente: Xinhua

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *