Biggest US Nuclear Bomb Dismantled
October 26, 2011 by staff
Biggest US Nuclear Bomb Dismantled, The last of the larger nation’s nuclear bombs, a relic of the Cold War 600 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, has been dismantled in what one official called a landmark energy in the mission of President Barack Obama to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
Workers in Texas separated about 300 pounds (136kg) of high explosives inside the special nuclear material – uranium – known as the hole.
The work was done out of public view for security reasons, but dismantled a bomb explosives were detonated above officials and reporters less than a mile (1.6 kilometers) away.
The energy secretary, Daniel Poneman, called the removal “a landmark achievement.” The completion of the decommissioning program a year ahead of schedule, according to the U.S. Department of Energy nuclear security administration, and aligns with Obama’s goal of reducing the number of nuclear weapons.
Commissioned in 1962, when Cold War tensions peaked during the Missile Crisis in Cuba, the B53 weighed 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg) and was the size of a minivan. Many of the bombs were dismantled in 1980, but a significant number remained in the U.S. arsenal until he retired from the reserve in 1997.
The removal of the B53 ends the era of big megaton bombs, said Hans Kristensen, a spokesman for the Federation of American Scientists. The largest nuclear bomb in the arsenal of the nation now is the 1.2 megaton B83, he said. The B53 was 9 megatons.
The 1.5-kiloton bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, at the end of the second world WAER killed about 140,000 people.
The size of the B53s helped compensate for their lack of precision, Kristensen said. Today’s pumps are smaller but more accurate, reducing the amount of collateral damage, he said.
Kristensen said the Obama administration should not assume too much of dismantling the B53 in your arsenal of active nuclear warheads has been reduced to only 10 in the last seven months and an arsenal of Russia has grown by 29. The two nations signed a treaty in December to reduce their arsenals.
Since B53 was done with the older technology of the engineers who have retired or died, the development of a disassembly process took time. The engineers had to develop complex new tools and procedures to ensure safety.
“We knew that this would be an ambitious project, and assembled a great team with all our partners to develop a way to achieve this safely and efficiently,” said John Woolery, general manager of the Pantex Plant near Amarillo , where the pump was taken apart.
The plant is the only national nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility. This was the first time in 18 years the media were allowed in safe there. Corridors of a building had images of nuclear test explosions in the walls. Traveling by bus you could see the areas on the premises of 16,000 acres (6,500 hectares), one of the safest places in the country, where the wells of plutonium and other weapons materials are stored.
Facing the B53 will remain there temporarily, Pantex spokesman Greg Cunningham said. Meanwhile, the remaining nuclear material and components will be treated, including disinfection recycling and disposal, the National Nuclear Security Administration, said last fall when it announced the role of the Texas plant dismantling B53 .
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