Jeffrey LewisW76 LEP Completely Baked

Mr. Braddock: Don’t you think that idea is a little half-baked?

Benjamin: Oh no, Dad, it’s completely baked.

Frank Munger explains that workers at Y12 turned the heat up a little too much on some subassemblies:

OAK RIDGE – A federal spokesman confirmed that Oak Ridge workers overcooked some nuclear warhead components during a drying process to such an extent that the parts could no longer be “used as intended.”


According to the weekly activity report from the DNFSB staff in Oak Ridge, workers in Y-12’s Assembly/Disassembly Building “discovered that certain subassemblies had been dried in an oven at a much higher temperature than intended for the subassemblies. This was due to misidentification of the items and lack of formal, deliberate use of the procedure governing the task of canning items in preparation for oven drying.”

The Oak Ridge plant specializes in the manufacture and dismantlement of so-called secondaries, which are the second stage of thermonuclear weapons. The parts also are referred to as canned subassemblies, and they are fabricated with highly enriched uranium and other materials.

The safety board report said Y-12 workers who put the subassemblies in the can did not fill out a required form identifying the items. Later, a different operator who was not involved in the canning filled out those forms but used incorrect information based on “verbal input” from the other workers, the safety staffers wrote in their report to board headquarters in Washington .

“Since the items were misidentified, the oven was set at a higher temperature than intended,” the report said.

You can read the original DNFSB report here. Yes, aerogels are oven-dried.

Munger has tried to follow-up, but to no avail.


  1. rkelly (History)

    NNSA continues to reap the benefits of the B&W contract.

    But, it’s difficult for NNSA to admit they made an error selecting these cats

  2. Tom Skypek (History)

    Yet another painful example of how the US nuclear enterprise is eroding-how many more incidents will it take until Washington realizes how bad things have gotten? It’s pretty clear that some on the Hill believe nuclear weapons are irrelevant. Unfortunately, that is simply not the case.

  3. Distiller (History)

    How long will the test ban stand now? Can you be SURE these toys go booom when they should? Can you be SURE without testing at least one from each batch?

  4. FSB

    To their credit, perhaps the good folks at Y-12 were just looking at the wrong guide for ‘canning items in preparation for oven drying’ . It is a rather complicated procedure actually.

  5. kme

    Distiller: The right question is, can a deterrable foe be SURE that they (all) won’t?

  6. FSB

    Distiller & kme: it doesn’t matter — if there is about a 50% chance that a 100kT bomb will go boom, then that will deter your enemy as well as if there is a 99.9% chance.

    That is why I have been advocating replacing all the warheads with Mexican pinatas for some time now — as long as the Russians don’t know it doesn’t matter.

    Do you know the reliability of the Russian warheads? Are you scared of them anyway?

    OK, then.