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Highlights from 2006
December 14, 2006 – The Off-Site Source Recovery Project (OSRP) conducted a high-priority recovery of an at-risk device and several Radium-226 sealed sources from a licensee in Massachusetts. NRC requested an expedited recovery of this material due to security concerns. OSRP staff met with representatives of DOE-Chicago and ANL-E regarding disposal options for their sealed source inventory. More than sixty sealed sources were also recovered from Minnesota. OSRP staff attended an IAEA consultancy on the International Catalogue of Sealed Radioactive Sources during the week of December 11. OSRP Program Manager was nominated to be a country coordinator to the catalogue, which has extensive information on radiological sealed sources and source-containing devices, as well as manufacturers.
November 29, 2006 - Staff members from the Global Threat Reduction Office, OSRP, and Southwest Research Institute developed and conducted training for employees of the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA) in use of hot cells for remote handling of radioactive materials in San Antonio, Tex. Working with the IAEA's Waste Technology Section, the Los Alamos experts showed the South Africans how to disassemble irradiators and remove and securely store high-activity beta-gamma sources. NECSA is the primary contractor for IAEA in development, fabrication and deployment of the Spent High Activity Radioactive Source (SHARS) conditioning facility and has hosted previous IAEA training for African nuclear experts. In 2005, NECSA, with the support of the South African government, consolidated radioactive sources from various African countries for repatriation to the United States and other countries of origin. The training was funded by NNSA's Office of North and South American Threat Reduction (NA-211).
October 18, 2006 - OSRP hosted an expert, recently retired from the Pan American Health Organization, at Los Alamos for a Threat Reduction Colloquium October 17 entitled "Use and Disposal of Medical Radioactive Sources in Latin America and the Caribbean." She also met with the OSR team to discuss radiological material removal in Latin America and share footage of devices and disposal methods she has encountered in her decades of work in the region.
September 20, 2006 - OSRP achieved its milestone for FY '06 by recovering 1,961 sealed radioactive sources from 98 different sites, including one recovery from the African continent. Most recently, a Los Alamos team o traveled to Australia and Tasmania to recover U.S.-origin sealed sources (Pu-239, Pu-238, and Ra-226). While in Australia, the team also worked with the International Atomic Energy Agency to train an IAEA regional team for Southeast Asia on source conditioning.
September 6, 2006 – For FY '06 OSRP has disposed of more than 250 drums of actinide sealed sources at the WIPP facility in Carlsbad, NM.
In other news, OSRP representatives attended the First Pan-American Congress of the International Radiation Protection Association in Acapulco, Mexico. They staffed an educational booth informing conference attendees about OSRP and U.S. radiological sealed source repatriation efforts. They also met with officials from the Pan-American Health Organization and other national regulators and source owners.
The OSRP senior project leader, spoke at a conference at the Khelminitskiy Nuclear Power Plant in Neteshyn, Ukraine. The presentation, "Reducing the Threat of Radiological Terrorism through U.S. Domestic and International Programs for Radiological Source Security," was well received. She also visited the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria, for discussions with the IAEA Waste Technology Section about upcoming joint projects in Africa and the Middle East, among other topics.
July 27, 2006 – The Global Threat Reduction Program's Off-Site Source Recovery Project team completed shipment of about 40 drums of Plutonium-238 sealed sources to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. The shipment represented the first of this type of material since the recent designation that the Pu-238 sources are defense-related material.
July 27, 2006 – The recently retired senior project leader of the OSRP, received a Special Service award from the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management at its 2006 conference in Nashville, TN. According to the INMM, this OSRP leader "recognized the potential threat posed by excess and unwanted radioactive sources with no path to disposal, and became a nationally recognized advocate for the recovery and responsible management of excess radiological materials... By finding methods and mechanisms for removing these excess materials from the environment to safe and secure storage, and arranging for their disposal and permanent environmental isolation," he helped move source recovery into the international arena.
June 28, 2006 – Members of the OSRP team were busy on both coasts. The team recovered 134 transuranic sources at a San Francisco university and they completed recovery of two 650-Curie, gamma-emitting high-activity sources on the east and west coasts.
June 21, 2006 – OSRP has completed the recovery of all known excess non-governmental sealed sources of plutonium-239 in the United States. This multi-year effort has involved the collection of about 270 sealed sources from 140 different sites, consolidation into 120 drums, and disposal of most of the drums to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. In addition, the OSRP team passed two recent WIPP re-certification audits with flying colors. The audits were conducted by the New Mexico Environment Department, DOE's Carlsbad Field Office, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Recoveries of similar plutonium sources will continue as they become excess and unwanted.
June 1, 2006 – In mid May, OSRP completed a major sealed source recovery and disposition objective. The OSRP team has recovered and secured all known non-governmental excess and unwanted Plutonium-239/beryllium (Pu-239/Be) neutron sealed sources from within the U.S. Recoveries included unused sources from universities and commercial/industrial licensees. Following the June shipment of these sources to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, NM, OSRP will have finally disposed of about 270 PuBe sources containing more than 8900g of Pu.
These sources, which contain plutonium and beryllium metals, originated from an early Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) distribution program that promoted research and peaceful uses of nuclear technology. By 1972, U.S. manufacturers had fabricated and distributed more than 2,000 Pu-239/Be sources. When the AEC loan/lease program closed in 1979, hundreds of these sources remained at their licensed locations, many in an unused and/or unsecured state. OSRP was created in 1998 by the Department of Energy to deal with this problem and has been actively recovering these special nuclear materials ever since.
May 5, 2006 – In May 2006, the first shipment of drums containing more than 100 grams/drum of plutonium was shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) as part of the Off-Site Source Recovery Project (OSRP). The shipment consisted of seven drums, all containing more than 100g Pu. The same day, the Carlsbad Field Office signed a defense determination for Am-241, Pu-238, and U.S.-origin, foreign-owned Pu-239 sealed sources. This will allow the recovery of about 500 drums of unused sealed sources now eligible for disposal at WIPP.
March 9, 2006 – OSRP teams have been on the road since mid-January, packaging plutonium-239 sources at universities in Nebraska, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Arkansas, and Missouri. So far, 24 Pu-239/Be sources have been packaged at 19 sites and are awaiting shipment, while a total of 407 sources containing other isotopes have been recovered from 21 sites and placed in secure storage since October. One recent piece of good news for the OSRP project was a decision by NNSA's Office of Defense Nuclear Security (NA-70) to raise the safeguards requirements for drums containing Pu-239 sources from 100 up to 200 grams of plutonium. The new limit aligns the Project with the WIPP limit of 200 grams/drum.
March 2, 2006 – Staff from the Global Threat Reduction Program Office hosted two important and popular visitors from NNSA on March 1. Andrew Bieniawski, assistant deputy administrator for Global Threat Reduction (NA-21) and Joel Grimm of the Office of Global Radiological Threat Reduction (NA-211) toured Technical Areas 18, 54 and 46 and took part in demonstrations of the Off-Site Source Recovery Program.
Press Releases & News Clippings for 2006
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