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Pantex perimeter, alternative view. | by itjournalist
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Pantex perimeter, alternative view.

This is a view of the perimeter of the Pantex nuclear weapons plant in Amarillo, Texas.

 

Pantex was the final assembly point for the 70,000 nuclear weapons produced in the US during the cold war. The Plutonium warheads were assembled together with triggering devices in deep underground bunkers (which always struck me as poignant, given that Plutonium shares the same name with Pluto, Roman god of the underworld).

 

Amarillo is one of the most religious towns in the US and carries a strong millenarian trait. Many people there (including the mayor, who I interviewed) are waiting for the end of the world and the second coming of Christ (which they refer to as the rapture). One preacher in particular is convinced that the end of the world will be accompanied by nuclear conflagration.

 

This extreme religious commitment, in combination with the unbridled patriotism in the region and the fact that Pantex would have been one of the first Russian targets in a nuclear strike, created a bizarre mixture of both passive resignation and righteous ardour that unsettled Grace Mojtabai (who I also interviewed) in her book about Amarillo, 'Blessed Assurance'. Grace now lives in the town.

 

I think this shot epitomises the relationship between the nuclear weapons programme, the people who live near the site and the wide prairie land that they both have to co-exist on.

 

I took this about 3 minutes before I was detained by military personnel for two hours. By the end of my incarceration, one of them had invited me to see his church rock group play the following night.

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Taken on May 17, 2005