The Manhattan Project Resources

U.S. Department of Energy

Office of Environment, Health, Safety and Security

Office of History and Heritage Resources

Declassification of the Annual Weapon-Grade Plutonium Production at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of the Press Secretary, Washington, DC 20585


Declassification of the Annual Weapon-Grade Plutonium Production at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina

Table of Contents

Specifically
Background
Benefits
Who Are the Key Stakeholders?
Contact
Attachment
Questions and Answers

The Department of Energy has declassified the annual weapon-grade plutonium production rate at the Savannah River Site, near Aiken, South Carolina. Weapon-grade plutonium contains less than 7 percent of the isotope plutonium-240.

Specifically

Background

Benefits

Who Are the Key Stakeholders?

Contact

U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Public Affairs
Contact: Sam Grizzle
(202) 586-5806


Attachment

Historical Weapon-Grade Plutonium Production
at the Savannah River Site


U.S. Department of Energy, Office of the Press Secretary, Washington, DC 20585


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Q. Where is the plutonium now which was produced at the Savannah River Site?

A. Unclassified plutonium inventory information was provided in December 1993. The inventories are located at the Rocky Flats Plant near Denver, Colorado; the Hanford Site near Richland, Washington; the Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina; the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas; the Los Alamos National Laboratory; the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory; the Argonne National Laboratory-West; and in the weapons stockpile.

Q. When will the plutonium be removed from the Savannah River Site?

A. Any decision on potential removal of plutonium from Savannah River Site must await the completion of the Reconfiguration Environmental Impact Statement and the Materials Disposition Environmental Impact Statement.

Q. How safe is the storage of plutonium at the Savannah River Site? Does it represent a hazard to the public and workers?

A. Onsite reviews indicate that the plutonium storage at the Savannah River Site is safe.

Plutonium at the Savannah River Site is stored in special containers inside vaults, in underwater basins or in tanks (in solution).

The plutonium contained in "targets" stored in the underwater basins was the subject of the Department of Energy Spent Fuel Nuclear Vulnerability Assessment Report which was issued in November 1993. This report concluded that there is a potential for increased exposure to workers as a result of the target corrosion in the basins and a potential for environmental release and that the potential for significant negative impact to public health and safety is much less likely.

The remaining plutonium at the Savannah River Site is the subject of a similar vulnerability assessment that began in March 1994. Results from this latest complex-wide study will be published in a report to the Secretary by September 30, 1994. Concurrently, the Department is preparing an environmental impact statement for materials "at risk" at the Savannah River Site which may include some forms of plutonium. This study will determine the long-term stabilization method for plutonium and is expected to be complete in mid-1995.

There has been a recent concern raised with the degradation of targets and solutions with respect to F Canyon. This information is being evaluated. If some near term action is warranted it will be done within applicable environmental laws and the public will be informed.


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