US nuclear weapons facility reopens after wildfire threat

World Wednesday 28/February/2024 15:06 PM
By: DW
US nuclear weapons facility reopens after wildfire threat

Texas: A nuclear weapons facility in the Texas Panhandle said it has reopened for operations on Wednesday, after it shut down for a day as a series of blazes burned in the region.

The Texas Panhandle is a region of the US state of Texas consisting of the northernmost 26 counties in the state. Texas has a total of 254 counties, more than any other US state.

The Pantex Plant said the plant “is open for normal day shift operations” and that all personnel were to report for duty according to their assigned schedule. The plant earlier said Tuesday it was monitoring the threat and that there was no fire at the site.

"Since 1975, Pantex has been the nation’s primary assembly, disassembly, retrofit, and life-extension center for nuclear weapons," the website for the plant says. It assembled the last new atomic bomb in 1991 and has also disassembled thousands.

Pantex is about 17 miles (27.36 kilometres) northeast of the northern Texas city of Amarillo and some 320 miles (515 kilometres) northwest of Dallas.

At least five fires were burning in the Texas Panhandle region as of early Wednesday, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service

So far, more than 381,000 acres have been burned by the fires, according to the forest service. But 25 out of 31 fires in the state had been brought under control.

On Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for 60 counties as the largest blaze, the Smokehouse Creek Fire, burned nearly 400 square miles (1,040 square kilometres), according to the forest service. That is more than twice its size since the fire sparked on Monday.

As of Wednesday, the Smokehouse Creek Fire was burning in the Hutchinson County, which includes the city of Canadian, a city about 100 miles northeast of Amarillo.

An unknown number of homes and other structures in Hutchinson County have been damaged, officials said, and the air quality in the region has severely dipped.