NNSA recovers over 15,000 radioactive sources

10 May 2007

The US Department of Energy's (DoE's) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) reported that it has recovered and secured over 15,000 radioactive sources from around the USA since 1999.


Under the NNSA's Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), excess, unwanted, or abandoned radioactive sealed sources and other radioactive material are recovered and secured by Los Alamos National Laboratory's (LANL's) Off-site Source Recovery Project (OSRP) from commercial firms and academic institutions. Sources containing radioactive plutonium, americium, californium, caesium, cobalt, iridium, radium, and strontium have been recovered from medical, educational, agricultural, research and industrial facilities throughout the USA.


Radioactive sealed sources packaged by NNSA's OSRP include more than 15,000 curies of americium-241, 10,000 curies of plutonium-238, and 10,000 grams of plutonium-239, collected from more than 600 sites. The sealed sources were once used in applications ranging from nuclear-powered cardiac pacemakers to gauges used in the manufacture of paper.


The aim of the GTRI program is to remove and securely manage radioactive materials that could be at risk of theft or used in a radiological dispersal device ('dirty bomb').


The OSRP was initiated by the DoE in 1999 as an environmental management project to recover and dispose of excess and unwanted sealed radioactive sources. The NNSA was established by Congress in 2000 as a separately organized agency within the DoE responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. The OSRP was transferred to NNSA's Office of Global Threat Reduction in 2003. In 2006, OSRP also began recovering unwanted or unused US-origin sealed sources distributed overseas.


Further information


Los Alamos National Laboratory
National Nuclear Security Administration
US Department of Energy


WNA's Radioisotopes in Industry information paper
 Radioisotopes in Medicine information paper
 Safeguards to Prevent Nuclear Proliferation information paper


WNN: Biggest enriched uranium return to date

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