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Highlights from 2007

First-Ever Repatriations of Unwanted US-Origin Plutonium

December 19, 2007 -Congratulations to the Off-Site Source Recovery team - they have received the first-ever repatriations of U.S.-origin plutonium sources from Italy and Brazil.  The staff put in many, many hours and lots of effort to resolve all of the international transportation issues.

Homeless Foreign Sources Could Go to WIPP

December 5, 2007 -On November 8, NA-21 and OSRP received a favorable defense determination from the NNSA General Counsel for foreign-origin sealed sources already recovered by OSRP.  This determination makes disposal at the WIPP transuranic waste disposal facility possible for these materials.

This Won't Hurt a Bit

December 5, 2007 -Under a State Department NDF-funded project with IAEA, OSRP staff are continuing to work with IAEA staff to develop a path forward for an inventory of spent high-activity sealed sources in used medical devices currently located in a small South American country.  Current estimates to move the devices exceed the available funding, so the team is investigating other options.

Lots of Teeny Little Sources Under Control

October 31, 2007 –During the week of October 15, OSRP packaged hundreds of sources at a private company that is trying to divest itself of radiological work.  This special case represents the first domestic OSRP efforts to recover smaller Cs and Co sealed sources, which have a much higher gamma dose than the neutron sources typically handled by the team.  The team has developed new packaging configurations, and consolidation and disposal of these sources differs significantly from the normal OSRP process.  Additional recovery trips are anticipated due to the large number of sources. 

Source Recovery Reaches Out

October 31, 2007 –During the week of October 22, OSRP staff attended the PATRAM conference in Florida.  The team staffed an OSRP exhibit that was very well attended and two papers titled "Issues Impeding Global Recovery and Transportation of Disused Plutonium Sources:  Limited Transport Options and Denials of Shipment" and "Transportation Safety Risk for Source Recovery vs. Consequence of Leaving Radioactive Sources in Place and Vulnerable Due to Limited Transport Options or Denial of Shipment" were presented.  The team held discussions with representatives of AREVA and the French agency CEA regarding removal of U.S.-origin sources from France.  The team also discussed U.S.-origin sources in Canada with representatives of Atomic Energy of Canada, Limited and the Canadian regulator, CNSC.

On Being AmBe-dextrous

October 31, 2007 – OSRP Program Leader participated in a conference call regarding the lack of availability of Am-241 sealed sources to support the well-logging industry.  The industry would like DOE to re-release larger AmBe sealed sources recovered by OSRP in 2002-2003 that are still stored at TA-54 pending a decision on this issue.  Lack of domestic production of Am-241 has caused sealed source manufacturers to look to Russia for supplies of this material, creating proliferation and national security concerns.

Brushing Up Their Portuguese

September 19, 2007 – The OSRP staff completed final preparations for travel to Brazil to support packaging of US origin sources for repatriation to the US and to conduct training of Brazilian teams, operating in partnership with the IAEA, in the conditioning of neutron sources.

Source Recovery for Chile, Red or Green?

September 19, 2007 – OSRP is performing assessments of US-origin sealed sources in Chile, Denmark, and Sweden this week.  Recovery of sources from these locations is expected early in 2008.  The Chilean inventory is similar to that encountered by teams in Ecuador recently, in that it contains a large number of sources of varying isotopes and some source-containing devices that may require disassembly.

Source Recovery Team Wows Health Physics Society

September 19, 2007 – At the annual Health Physics Society meeting, OSRP presented the papers: "Los Alamos National Laboratory Project Recovers U.S.-Origin Neutron Sources from Australia," and "LANL and NECSA Cooperate in IAEA Spent High-Activity Radioactive Sources (SHARS) Hot Cell Pilot Project in South Africa."  In addition, the OSRP Team Leader addressed a sub-meeting of Campus Radiation Safety Officers (CRSOs).  The CRSOs are particularly concerned about Ra-226 and RaBe sealed sources, which can cost tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to dispose, depending on activity.

SCATR Project Gets a Boost

September 19, 2007 – OSRP attended the American Association of Physicists in Medicine conference during the week of July 23 to join the staff of the Council of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD) in promoting the new Source Collection and Threat Reduction (SCATR) project funded by NA-21.  OSRP is supporting SCATR by collecting registrations of smaller SCATR-size unwanted sealed sources on its website and supplying data to CRCPD.  Future support may include equipment and packaging assistance

OSRP Road Warriors Recovering Nicely

July 11, 2007Last month, an OSRP was in Italy to encapsulate and package several large Pu-238 sealed sources at a European Commission facility.  This material may be recycled once repatriated to the U.S.  The team also recovered another U.S.-origin source from a technical institute.

OSRP is also working on numerous disposal issues, including reactivity of lithium-containing sources, commercial disposal of Ra-226 sealed sources, and disposal of other types of high-activity sealed sources.

Seizing Some Cesium

June 27, 2007 – An OSRP recovery team packaged U.S.-origin sealed sources in Ecuador, supporting NA-21's first bilateral source recovery operations in Latin America.  This project also marks the first packaging of Cs and Co sealed sources by OSRP staff.

Brazil - It's More Than a State of Mind

June 27, 2007 – OSRP has been asked by IAEA to provide training of a Brazilian regional consolidation team as part of a consolidation project.  Training areas include source packaging for special form compliance, transportation, neutron generation physics and shielding, disassembly of sources from devices, and radiation protection.  This work is funded by the U.S. State Department NDF fund in collaboration with NA-21 to develop regional consolidation capacity in South America. 

OSRP Takes on the World

June 1, 2007 – OSRP and the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD, a nonprofit organization of individuals that regulate and control the use of radioactive material and radiation sources,) exhibited booths at the Health Physics Society annual conference in July to encourage registration of excess and unwanted sources for the Source Collection and Threat Reduction Program (SCATR) program.  CRCPD is piloting SCATR in the state of Florida, where the first consolidation of unwanted sources was announced.

In addition to the efforts previously mentioned, NA-21 and OSRP have received requests or expressions of interest for source recovery operations from Germany, Denmark, Israel, and Canada.  NA-21 responds to and prioritizes requests it receives in writing from interested countries.

OSRP completed two weeks of WIPP recertification audits in late May as part of the CCP TRU waste certification program at LANL.  OSRP received no audit findings.

OSRP Potpourri

June 1, 2007 – A radiological dispersal device (a.k.a., dirty bomb) economic impact study team including members of OSRP traveled to Washington, D.C. for a briefing to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

OSRP Project Manager attended the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors’ (CRCPD) E-34 “Unwanted Radioactive Materials Working Group” meeting. Other attendees included regulators from Florida, Illinois, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania, as well as EPA, NRC, and NA-21.  OSRP is working jointly with CRCPD to develop the Source Collection and Threat Reduction (SCATR) program to deal with smaller non-actinide sealed sources such as Cs-137, Co-60, and Ra-226.  A SCATR program summary poster was presented at the Waste Management conference in Tucson; and was also be featured at the full CRCPD meeting in Spokane.  OSRP also presented a poster in person and discussed OSRP with many attendees.

15-Thousandth Sealed Source

May 2, 2007 – OSRP team members packaged 458 sealed sources totaling 119 Ci at eight sites in April.  This included packaging of the 15,000th sealed source PDF by OSRP. An additional 499 sealed sources are packaged and awaiting shipment. OSRP team members also conducted functional testing of the PAT-1 shipping container using live sealed sources.  The container will simplify OSRP efforts to recover U.S.-origin Pu internationally.

High-Level Help with Low-Level Waste

May 2, 2007 – OSRP staff traveled to the Nevada Test Site (NTS) to attend the NTS Generators Workshop. They attended the workshop in expectation that OSRP will begin disposing of low-level waste at NTS during the fiscal year.  NTS has provided critical support to OSRP during the Pu-239 recovery campaign completed in 2006.  The NTS Radioactive Waste Acceptance Program staff was very helpful and expressed their willingness to assist where needed.

IAEA Conference Presentation

May 2, 2007 – OSRP partners participated in the IAEA "International Conference on Challenges faced by Technical Support Organizations in Enhancing Nuclear Safety" and presented the poster "LANL's Offsite Source Recovery Project as a Tool to Handle Unwanted/Disused Radioactive Sources."  The conference, which was the first of a series focusing on technical support organizations, was held in Aix-En Provence, France.

Sealed Sources Surveyed

March 21, 2007 – OSRP participated in a joint mission with the IAEA to evaluate the known inventories of sealed radioactive sources in six Central American countries (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Panama).  In each country, government officials were asked to produce available information on the sources, including: isotope, activity, manufacturer, manufacture date, model, serial number, present location, storage configuration, and usage status of source.  Based on these findings, sources were prioritized according to activity and vulnerability.  Recommendations for follow-up actions, specifically repatriation of U.S.-origin sources, are being developed.  In a similar but separate project, OSRP drafted a Work Plan for repatriation of U.S.-origin sealed sources from Ecuador.

Source Recovery Bares All

March 21, 2007 – The OSR Project obtained approval to test the PAT-1 (Cert. No. USA/0361/B) shipping container's neutron shielding properties using Pu/Be neutron sources.  This Type B container is approved for air transport of Plutonium. Along with the S300 pipe overpack container (Cert. No USA/9329/AF), the PAT-1 package will be critical to OSRP's repatriation of U.S.-origin sealed sources and will affect decisions about whether to regionally consolidate such materials in other countries prior to shipment to the U.S.

Running Hot and Cold in Africa

March 21, 2007 – OSRP traveled to South Africa to participate in cold and hot functional testing of the Spent High Activity Radioactive Source (SHARS) conditioning facility as part of an IAEA consultancy.  The operations of the SHARS (portable hot-cell) facility were successfully demonstrated using a 1900 Ci Co-60 sealed source.  While some technical difficulties were encountered and overcome, the tests confirmed successful utilization of the facility for removal of a high activity beta gamma sources from an irradiator, with subsequent placement into a long term storage shield.  The maximum dose rate observed on the shield was 50 mrem/hour on contact with the outer wall.  Long term plans include potential licensing of the storage shield as a Type B transportation container.  While additional work is required to ensure the field readiness of the facility, the IAEA can now proceed with plans to deploy the SHARS facility in African countries later this year.

OSRP Head South

March 7, 2007 – OSRP leadership traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with representatives of NA-21, Department of State, and the Pan American Health Organization on activities being conducted or proposed in Latin America.  Potential joint projects, such as removal of Radium sources conditioned by IAEA in Barbados and a removal activity in El Salvador were assessed, as was the possibility of getting on the agenda of the governmental organization Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana (SICA) to discuss the need for a regional radiological material storage facility in Central America.

Also, OSRP traveled to Ecuador and Bolivia this week to assess U.S.-origin sealed sources present in the inventories collected at national storage facilities in these countries.  They is now preparing a work plan for removal of certain U.S.-origin sealed sources from those countries.  Problematic items encountered included sealed sources packaged in concrete.

Offsite Source Recovery Raids Hot Crematorium, Funeral Home

February 7, 2007 – An OSRP team packaged 115 Am-241 and Am/Be-Cs-137 sealed sources at a device-manufacturing facility and also removed five problematic large sources that will be further processed elsewhere.  The team also visited a local funeral home to assess a large inventory of pacemakers and is assisting the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) and National Registry of Crematories with plutonium pacemaker identification.


Press Releases & News Clippings for 2007

LANL Releases

Local, Regional & National News Clippings

Government Reports & News


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