TRASH TO TREASURE: CONVERTING COLD WAR LEGACY WASTE INTO WEAPONS AGAINST CANCER

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As part of its commitment to clean up Cold War legacy sites, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has initiated an exciting and unique project to dispose of its inventory of uranium-233 (233U) stored at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and extract isotopes that show great promise in the treatment of deadly cancers. In addition to increasing the supply of potentially useful medical isotopes, the project will rid DOE of a nuclear concern and cut surveillance and security costs. For more than 30 years, DOE's ORNL has stored over 1,200 containers of fissile 233U, originally produced for several defense-related projects, ... continued below

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Nicholas, R.G.; Lacy, N.H.; Butz, T.R. & Brandon, N.E. October 6, 2004.

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As part of its commitment to clean up Cold War legacy sites, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has initiated an exciting and unique project to dispose of its inventory of uranium-233 (233U) stored at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and extract isotopes that show great promise in the treatment of deadly cancers. In addition to increasing the supply of potentially useful medical isotopes, the project will rid DOE of a nuclear concern and cut surveillance and security costs. For more than 30 years, DOE's ORNL has stored over 1,200 containers of fissile 233U, originally produced for several defense-related projects, including a pilot study that looked at using 233U as a commercial reactor fuel. This uranium, designated as special nuclear material, requires expensive security, safety, and environmental controls. It has been stored at an ORNL facility, Building 3019A, that dates back to the Manhattan Project. Down-blending the material to a safer form, rather than continuing to store it, will eliminate a $15 million a year financial liability for the DOE and increase the supply of medical isotopes by 5,700 percent. During the down-blending process, thorium-229 (229Th) will be extracted. The thorium will then be used to extract actinium-225 (225Ac), which will ultimately supply its progeny, bismuth-213 (213Bi), for on-going cancer research. The research includes Phase II clinical trials for the treatment of acute myelogenous leukemia at Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center in New York, as well as other serious cancers of the lungs, pancreas, and kidneys using a technique known as alpha-particle radioimmunotherapy. Alpha-particle radioimmunotherapy is based on the emission of alpha particles by radionuclides. 213Bi is attached to a monoclonal antibody that targets specific cells. The bismuth then delivers a high-powered but short-range radiation dose, effectively killing the cancerous cells but sparing the surrounding tissue. Production of the actinium and bismuth would be a private venture at no cost to the government. Isotek Systems, LLC, was commissioned by the DOE to execute the project, known as the 233U Disposition, Medical Isotope Production, and Building 3019 Complex Shutdown Project. Isotek is a partnership between Duratek Federal Services, Burns and Roe Enterprises, and Nuclear Fuel Services. By pooling their pioneering experiences in nuclear engineering and design, nuclear recycling, and waste management, the partnership has developed a novel process to meet this clean-up milestone. The project is not only important for its cancer treatment potential, but also for setting the stage for reducing global threats through the down-blending of materials.

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INIS; OSTI as DE00840301

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  • Americas Nuclear Energy Symposium (ANES 2004), Miami, FL (US), 10/03/2004--10/06/2004

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  • Report No.: none
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 840301
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc779657

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  • October 6, 2004

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  • Dec. 3, 2015, 9:30 a.m.

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  • March 30, 2016, 10:56 a.m.

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Nicholas, R.G.; Lacy, N.H.; Butz, T.R. & Brandon, N.E. TRASH TO TREASURE: CONVERTING COLD WAR LEGACY WASTE INTO WEAPONS AGAINST CANCER, article, October 6, 2004; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc779657/: accessed September 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.