‘Code Blue’ lifted at Pantex

pantex2Aerial view of the Pantex warhead assembly/disassembly plant. (NNSA photo)

The National Nuclear Security Administration today confirmed that the “Code Blue” situation at the Pantex warhead assembly/disassembly plant has been closed. Shelley Laver of NNSA said the Code Blue, which involved the B61 and B80 nuclear bomb operations at Pantex, was initiated May 3 and closed last week.

Laver earlier said a “new hazard scenario” had been identified with containers used to package specific explosive components. She previously said a solution had been identified, and that apparently was completed last week. Details of how the weapons-related issue was resolved have not been released.

In an earlier statement, NNSA said, “A Code Blue is called when an issue or condition could have significant impact on meting program requirements.”

In a written statement, the NNSA said, “Declaring a Code Blue ensures engagement of not only senior NNSA and Pantex management, but also other experts across the NNSA enterprise who can assist in resolving the issue.”

Earlier information from the NNSA indicated that things were on track so that “scheduled deliverables” at the Amarillo, Texas, plant — a key cog in the nuclear weapons complex — were met while dealing with the situation.

Code Blue orders are pretty rare events in the nuclear weapons complex. The last one I remember was the 2009 situation involving the resumption of Fogbank production at the Y-12 National Security Complex. The Government Accountability Office issued a report that addressed the difficulties in resuming production and referenced the Code Blue that had been put into effect to gain help from elsewhere in the weapons complex.

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.