Last month, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) recovered its one millionth curie (Ci) of disused and unwanted radioactive sources from domestic sites through its Off-Site Source Recovery Project (OSRP). These removals were part of DOE/NNSA’s global campaign to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear and radiological material.
The radioactive source that achieved the millionth curie milestone was a small stainless steel capsule, about the size of a pencil, containing 100 Ci of the radioactive isotope Cobalt-60 (Co-60). This source was recovered from an industrial facility in Maryland. Technical experts from both Los Alamos and Idaho National Laboratories provided expertise in implementing this mission. "The State of Maryland greatly appreciates the assistance of DOE/NNSA’s OSRP for the safe removal and disposal of large quantities of unwanted and hazardous radioactive material from the State," said Maryland's Secretary of the Environment Dr. Robert Summers. "Proper disposal of this radioactive material significantly reduces the potential for illicit use of the material."
“This recovery shipment of the one-millionth curie is the latest on the list of major accomplishments the OSRP team has achieved over the years,” said DOE/NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington. “These recovery efforts help keep all of us safe from the malicious use of unwanted radioactive sources.”
Since 1999, OSRP’s mission to remove excess, unwanted, abandoned or orphaned radioactive sealed sources that pose a potential risk to health, safety, and national security has resulted in the successful recovery of more than 38,000 radioactive sources from more than 1,100 domestic locations. Collectively, this amount of radioactive material is enough to produce 100,000 radiological dispersal devices (aka “dirty bombs”).
For more information on NNSA’s work to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological material click here.
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. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce 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.