The National Nuclear Security Administration gave the go-ahead for the roughly $145 million High Explosive Pressing Facility at the Pantex Plant to begin full-scale operations, according to a Thursday press release from the semi-autonomous DOE nuclear weapons agency.
The facility can press some 2,500 pounds of conventional high explosives a year, and up to 500 explosive hemispheres, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) wrote in its presser. Nuclear weapons depend on conventional explosives to begin the chain reaction that causes a nuclear detonation.
The Army Corps of Engineers built the High Explosives Pressing Facility under a firm fixed price contract for the NNSA. The Army Corps. Broke ground on the facility in 2011 and finished construction in 2017.
The new, 45,000 square-foot facility replaces and consolidates older facilities, some of which were around 50 years old, according to NNSA’s presser.