Selection of Russian Plutonium Beryllium Sources for Inclusion in the Nuclear Mateirals Information Program Archive

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Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the former Soviet Union produced and exported Plutonium-Beryllium (PuBe) neutron sources to various Eastern European countries. The Russian sources consist of an intermetallic compound of plutonium and beryllium encapsulated in an inner welded, sealed capsule and consisting of a body and one or more covers. The amount of plutonium in the sources ranges from 0.002 g up to 15 g. A portion of the sources was originally exported to East Germany. A portion of these sources were acquired by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in the late 1990s for destruction in the Offsite Source Recovery ... continued below

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Narlesky, Joshua E; Padilla, Dennis D & Watts, Joe January 1, 2009.

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Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the former Soviet Union produced and exported Plutonium-Beryllium (PuBe) neutron sources to various Eastern European countries. The Russian sources consist of an intermetallic compound of plutonium and beryllium encapsulated in an inner welded, sealed capsule and consisting of a body and one or more covers. The amount of plutonium in the sources ranges from 0.002 g up to 15 g. A portion of the sources was originally exported to East Germany. A portion of these sources were acquired by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in the late 1990s for destruction in the Offsite Source Recovery Program. When the OSRP was canceled, the remaining 88 PuBe neutron sources were packaged and stored in a 55-gal drum at T A-55. This storage configuration is no longer acceptable for PuBe sources, and the sources must either be repackaged or disposed of. Repackaging would place the sources into Hagan container, and depending on the dose rates, some sources may be packaged individually increasing the footprint and cost of storage. In addition, each source will be subject to leak-checking every six months. Leaks have already been detected in some of the sources, and due to the age of these sources, it is likely that additional leaks may be detected over time, which will increase the overall complexity of handling and storage. Therefore, it was decided that the sources would be disposed of at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) due to the cost and labor associated with continued storage at TA-55. However, the plutonium in the sources is of Russian origin and needs to be preserved for research purposes. Therefore, it is important that a representative sample of the sources retained and archived for future studies. This report describes the criteria used to obtain a representative sample of the sources. Nine Russian PuBe neutron sources have been selected out of a collection of 77 sources for inclusion in the NMIP archive. Selection criteria were developed so that the largest sources that are representative of the collection are included. One representative source was chosen for every 20 sources in the collection, and effort was made to preserve sources unique to the collection. In total, four representative sources and five unique sources were selected for the archive. The archive samples contain 40 grams of plutonium with an isotopic composition similar to that of weapon grade material and three grams of plutonium with an isotopic composition similar to that of reactor grade plutonium.

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  • NMIP Materials Working Group ; March 12, 2009 ; Washington, DC

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  • Report No.: LA-UR-09-01394
  • Report No.: LA-UR-09-1394
  • Grant Number: AC52-06NA25396
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 956579
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc929369

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  • January 1, 2009

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  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Dec. 12, 2016, 6:17 p.m.

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Narlesky, Joshua E; Padilla, Dennis D & Watts, Joe. Selection of Russian Plutonium Beryllium Sources for Inclusion in the Nuclear Mateirals Information Program Archive, article, January 1, 2009; [New Mexico]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc929369/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.