In a VFW hall near downtown Amarillo, a group of former energy workers met to drink coffee and reminisce about their days working at the Pantex Plant, the nation’s primary facility for the assembly and disassembly of nuclear warheads, located northwest of Amarillo. Monday, Oct. 30, was designated the 9th Annual National Day of Remembrance for nuclear weapons workers by the U.S. Senate.
The Amarillo event was convened by the local chapter of the Cold War Patriots, an organization dedicated to connecting former nuclear weapons workers with the health care they have earned. Despite their reputation for secrecy, these workers were a garrulous bunch, quick with a joke and ready to discuss any topic ranging from politics to baseball.
Their cheerfulness belied the fact that many of these workers are now suffering from complex forms of cancer, contracted while working with uranium, plutonium and other hazardous materials. Coldwar Patriots spokesman Chip Chapman stressed that there is cash available to battle these diseases, as long as a link can be established between the disease and the work.