Dangling warhead part

Working with nuclear weapons is a very precise business, but there are times when things don’t go exactly as planned.beta2e2

That seemed to be the case in an incident at the Beta-2E assembly/disassembly center at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant that was included in an April 15 report by staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

According to that report, workers encountered a situation where an overhead crane “continued to lower a component after the worker operating the crane had released the ‘down’ pushbutton.”

The worker immediately pressed the “up” pushbutton, which reportedly stopped the crane. However, this placed the component “in an intermediate configuration that relied upon the hoist for stability.”

Y-12 spokeswoman Ellen Boatner confirmed that the component was a nuclear weapons part.

The DNFSB report said, “Assembly/Disassembly Operations management approached recovery from the issue in a very formal manner by developing a recovery plan and convening an operational safety board (OSB) meeting to approve the actions specified in the plan.”

The report said that, in accordance with actions approved by the board, the assembly/disassembly personnel placed the weapons component in a “secure configuration” and disconnected it from the crane.

“Maintenance personnel are evaluating the crane,” the report said.

Boatner said the crane has since been inspected and “maintenance was performed.” The crane has been returned to use, she said.

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This entry was posted in CNS, NNSA, nuclear, Y-12 on by .

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.