Pantex Blog

Capitol Christmas Tree Visits Amarillo

Posted: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - 00:00

B&W Pantex Employees Help Welcome Tree

B&W Pantex employees serve snacks to attendees at an event celebrating a visit from the 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree. The 88-foot tall Engelmann spruce was harvested from the Collville National Forest in Washington and will be erected at the Capitol Building. Babcock & Wilcox was one of the corporate sponsors of the tree tour which will make 22 stops, including Amarillo, before arriving in Washington D.C.

Capitol Christmas Tree
Capitol Christmas Tree

Pantex Night at Discovery Center

Posted: Monday, November 25, 2013 - 00:00

Don Harrington Discovery Center

More than 500 Pantexans and their families attended Pantex Night at the Don Harrington Discovery Center Sunday. Pantex volunteers served hamburgers and hot dogs at the science center event, which featured an exhibit on the extinct Megalodon shark, as well as a mummy in the Lost Egypt exhibit. B&W Pantex sponsored the shark exhibit.

Wild Pantex - Nuisance Animals: Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Posted: Monday, November 25, 2013 - 00:00

Article by Jim Ray, Pantex Wildlife Biologist/Scientist

​I had just got to work, settled in at my desk, read a few e-mails, and then my phone rang. The caller proceeded to tell me they were trying to work, but were interrupted by the presence of a rattlesnake. I strapped on my snake leggings, hopped in my truck and headed out toward the location, which involved a 10-15 minute drive.

Actually, snake calls are not that uncommon at Pantex. After all, we are situated out in the prairie. Most nuisance snake calls involve the prairie rattlesnake, bullsnake or checkered gartersnake. But, sometimes it will be an oddity. For example, the only eastern hognose snake ever documented at Pantex was captured in a building during a similar nuisance animal response.

Upon arrival where the rattlesnake was, several workers helped direct me to the snake, which was coiled in a dark corner of the building. True to form, it was a prairie rattlesnake which is the only rattlesnake species documented at Pantex, or that would even be expected in our habitats. With snake tongs, I safely captured it and placed it in a five gallon bucket. I carefully slid a second bucket down into the first, creating a safe holding container for the snake.

Our nuisance animal management program is guided by the Management Plan for Nuisance Animals at Pantex Plant, which was approved by Pantex’s National Nuclear Security Administration Production Office. So, what makes an animal a nuisance? As regards native animals, our use of the term “nuisance” applies only to situations; in other words, when an animal is impacting work, is in a location that is of cause for concern or is acting in a manner that is a cause of concern. Usually, the animal is fine; it is just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The rattlesnake, of course, has special considerations because it is venomous. But, had the rattlesnake simply been observed crossing a road out in the backcountry, even it would have been left alone. Meanwhile, the peaceful mourning dove sitting on a nest located on the engine block of an important piece of equipment might be considered a nuisance until the pair successfully fledge their young. Other common nuisance animal situations at Pantex include striped skunks under buildings, the presence of feral cats or stray dogs, feral pigeons nesting over work areas and cottontail rabbit and wood rat damage to vehicle wiring.

When we need outside support with situations, we have a great relationship with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We hold a permit from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to trap and relocate nuisance fur-bearing animals, such as raccoons and opossums.

I just never know what a day may hold in terms of nuisance animal situations. Some days I may be able to focus on research or other “planned tasks,” while other days may find me responding to different nuisance animal calls, including setting traps and moving animals. As for today’s subject rattlesnake, following capture, she was transported to a prairie dog colony a few miles to the west and released unharmed.

Please feel free to share this link with others that enjoy wildlife or that appreciate entities that take great strides to contribute to wildlife conservation.

An eastern hognose snake

Photo: This large, although harmless, eastern hognose snake was captured on a nuisance animal response trip and relocated to suitable habitat on Pantex. This individual remains the only one of its kind ever documented at Pantex. ​

Wild Pantex – Bobcat Work Makes The News

Posted: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 00:00

Article by Jim Ray, Pantex Wildlife Biologist/Scientist

Pantex and West Texas A&M have been working on bobcat research since 2009. Actually, this work has since transcended from "research" to "management" of the cats. Sunday, the work made the Amarillo Globe-News.

Enjoy the story here.

Please feel free to share this link with others that enjoy wildlife or that appreciate entities that take great strides to contribute to wildlife conservation.

Big Boy the Bobcat

Co-Principle Investigators, Dr. Raymond Matlack, West Texas A&M University, and Jim Ray, pose with a large male bobcat captured in their study area.

Pantex Engineers Host S'More Engineering

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 00:00

S'More Engineering

A group of young women engineers from Pantex spent their Saturday putting on an annual engineering workshop, known as S’More Engineering, for Amarillo-area Girl Scouts.

The engineers helped the Girl Scouts with several projects that illustrated engineering concepts, such as an egg drop that had the girls building a structure that would allow an egg to survive a one-story drop and an Angry Birds activity that saw them build catapults and other launching devices that re-created the popular mobile game.

The program started last year as a way to generate interest in engineering among young girls and encourage them to pursue careers in technical fields.

“It is very encouraging to see so many girls come out and take an active interest in engineering,” said Pantex process engineer Savannah Gates, who helped develop the Girl Scouts program. “These activities are so much fun, but they also teach important lessons that we hope will be valuable in their lives.”

B&W Pantex supports numerous activities throughout the year designed to encourage a love of science and math among area youths.

This year’s event continued the trend of increasing attendance, up by 50 percent over the last workshop, and interest by Girl Scouts, including several parents who participated in the event.

“It’s such a great opportunity for the girls to meet the Pantex engineers and work with them on these projects,” said Kathi Schutz, area director for the Girl Scouts of the Texas Oklahoma Plains. “They’re very hands on, and the girls see them as mentors that are taking an active interest in them.”