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Shipment of Used Medical Device from Texas Hospital Highlights NNSA Domestic Security Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of a national and international campaign to prevent nuclear terrorism by securing or eliminating unwanted radioactive materials at home and abroad, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced the successful shipment of a medical radiological device from the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, Texas.  Used to irradiate blood during lifesaving medical treatments, this piece of medical equipment contained approximately 3,000 curies of Cesium-137 and was no longer in use.

In February, working in partnership with Fort Hood and state and local regulators, a team from NNSA travelled to Fort Hood to package and remove this piece of medical equipment.  It was packaged for shipment in one day and immediately transported to a secure storage location where it will be prepared for disposal at a federal facility. To date, NNSA has recovered more than 27,000 disused and unwanted radioactive sealed sources in the United States containing about 800,000 curies of activity.

“This operation is an important example of our efforts to implement President Obama’s nuclear security agenda both here at home and around the world” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington. “The President’s 2012 budget request includes the resources necessary to partner with local communities and other state and federal agencies in similar operations with the goal of making our communities safer.”

As illustrated in this video, the operation was led by NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), which collaborates with partner sites in the private sector as well as state, local, and federal agencies like the Department of Defense and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to enhance existing domestic radiological security. NNSA’s work includes providing voluntary security enhancements for radioactive materials in use and removing radioactive materials that are no longer being used, to prevent terrorists from acquiring radiological materials.

Every year, thousands of sources become disused and unwanted in the United States. While regulatory requirements for in-place secure storage exist, GTRI works to remove thse unused and unwanted sources for permanent, safe disposition.  As part of NNSA’s nuclear security mission, GTRI works to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials located at sites worldwide – including in the United States.  

Last month, President Obama submitted a budget request for FY 2012 that includes $2.5 billion in FY 2012 and $14.2 billion over the next five years to detect, secure, safeguard, dispose of and control nuclear and radiological material around the world. That includes $71 million in FY 2012 for NNSA programs that protect and remove nuclear and radiological materials here in the United States.

For more information on GTRI and NNSA's work to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological material click here.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.