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Talk to Terrie: Part 2 – Pantex History Continued

January 20, 2022

January 20, 2022

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Part 2 of the Pantex history deals the request from an individual asking for details about significant incidents that occurred at Pantex.  Finding accident reports proved to be quite difficult.  The request is not as bizarre as some may think.  Knowing the details such as where the incident occurred and when can make all the difference in having the Department of Labor (DOL) accept a claim under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program.

Pantex is a covered facility from 1952 to the present. The DOL’s Site Exposure Matrix (SEM) lists ten incidents that occurred at the Pantex Plant covering a ten year period.  Clicking on “Incident Information” in the lower right-hand column will take you to a new page with a drop-down menu.

  • Acetone Drum Leak, Pad 11-12, 1976
  • Ethyl Acetate Drum Leak, Pad 11-12, 1976
  • DDT Release, Building 12-35, 1968-1969
  • Explosion of plastic bonded explosives, Building 11-14A, March 1977
  • High Explosives press explosion, Building 11-20, 1969
  • High Explosives reactor explosion, Building 11-36, 1971
  • Methyl Alcohol Drum Leak, 11-12 Pad, 1976
  • Plutonium exposure, Magazine 4-75, 1978
  • Toluene Drum Leak, Pad 11-12, 1976
  • Uranium Release, Firing Site 23, 1986

The SEM does provide a short summary of these incidents.  I was able to locate a Department of Energy (DOE) document for the fourth incident, the March 1977 explosion in Building 11-14A in which four workers died.

I was able to locate a reference to an incident involving The W48 cracked pit.  Unlike the document on the 1977 explosion, this document is not available to read online and must be ordered.  However, a description of this incident, which happened on November 12, 1992, was included with the Special Exposure Cohort petition 00068 on page 15.

Another source for incidents is DOE’s enforcement letters found on their page for Pantex.  For example, this page has a link to an incident where a worker was over exposed to toluene in 2018.

Unfortunately, this is the only enforcement letter on the DOE Pantex home page.  However, access to other enforcement letters for Pantex and all other DOE sites are available online.  There are 37 pages listing the letters and go back to 1995.

I’m sure there are many more incidents in the 70-year history of Pantex but, trust me, finding them is difficult. There’s also a DOE database for unusual occurrence reports.  Unfortunately, access to this database is not available to the general public because there is a potential for the database to contain sensitive and pre-decisional information.

I hope you found the two blogs interesting and helpful.