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Declassification of Today's Highly Enriched Uranium Inventories at Department of Energy Laboratories

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


Declassification of Today's Highly Enriched Uranium Inventories at Department of Energy Laboratories

Table of Contents

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

The Department of Energy has declassified information identifying the total highly enriched uranium inventory at the Department of Energy national laboratories. Highly enriched uranium is defined as having an enrichment above 20 percent of the fissionable isotope uranium-235. For uniformity, we are including in this public announcement some inventory numbers that were already unclassified.

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

Today's Department of Energy Highly Enriched Uranium Inventories


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


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Q. How safe is the uranium storage at the Department of Energy laboratories?

A. Onsite reviews indicate that the uranium storage is safe. The Department's Laboratories store uranium in secure locations, such as research reactors and specially-designed storage vaults. These facilities and uranium movements have been subjected to rigorous safety analysis, and security and accountability reviews. Storage and operations are controlled by procedures that are based on nuclear safety analyses. These facilities and operations are regularly reviewed by both Department of Energy and contractor independent safety oversight personnel. With the exception of spent nuclear fuel, there are no known vulnerabilities associated with uranium storage at the laboratories. To verify this, we are planning to conduct a vulnerability assessment for storage of highly enriched uranium beginning in October 1994. Spent nuclear fuel vulnerabilities were addressed in a report issued last November.

Q. Does the presence of uranium in the workplace or in the environment that results from the operations of the National Laboratory facilities represent a health hazard to the workers or the public?

A. The Department of Energy is addressing this question by sponsoring a comprehensive package of health studies of workers and community residents.

Surveillance of illness among workers is being performed at four laboratories: Brookhaven National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories. This program is designed to identify patterns of illness and injury by occupation and age groups, for each sex. Patterns are then used to discover the existence of specific workplace exposures and lead to exposure control measures.

Medical surveillance is conducted for workers exposed to uranium metal at all laboratories supported by the Department of Energy. The workers, identified by their unique exposures or occupations, are monitored for early signs of organ damage known to be associated with heavy metals such as uranium.

Workers at Brookhaven National Laboratory

Brookhaven has no potential for either plutonium or uranium exposures. In calendar year 1993, there were 42 workers and scientists included in the internal dosimetry program. Of 731 urine bioassay samples taken on these 42 individuals, 186 were positive, defined as being greater than 10 mrem committed effective dose equivalent, the 50-year dose to the body tissues on the exposed individual. The range of doses for single uptakes monitored by urine bioassay was from 10 mrem to 110 mrem committed effective dose equivalent. The maximum dose to an individual from multiple uptakes is about 300 mrem committed effective dose equivalent.

Workers at Idaho National Laboratory

During calendar year 1993 at Idaho National Laboratory, there were 5,145 individuals monitored by whole body counting and 3,116 individuals monitored with urine/fecal analyses. Record summary data does not permit differentiation of how many who have whole body counts may have also had urine/fecal analyses. Of these individuals monitored, six had positive doses for plutonium and one had a positive dose for uranium. Positive recordable at Idaho is defined as greater than 10 mrem committed effective dose equivalent. The 6 positive plutonium doses ranges from 14 mrem to 53 mrem committed effective dose equivalent. One uranium dosed was 11 mrem committed effective dose equivalent.

Workers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory there are about 100 workers monitored by urine bioassay for tritium (H-3), about 100 workers who receive annual lung counts for uranium and about 100 workers who are monitored by urine bioassay for plutonium. During calendar year 1993, only doses above 100 mrem committed effective dose equivalent are candidates for formal dose assessment and recording of internal dose. Using this criteria, there was no individual with a committed effective dose equivalent dose that was greater or equal to the investigation level of 100 mrem committed effective dose equivalent.

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is currently tracking annual internal doses for 25 individuals who had uptakes of radioactive materials prior to calendar year 1993. Almost all of these doses resulted from intakes of plutonium or americium. The total annual (calendar year 1993) effective dose equivalent from these uptakes is distributed as follows:

Intake Location        Percent of 1993 effective 
                       dose equivalent (Approximate)
----------------------------------------------------  
Rocky Flats            30 percent
  
Mound Laboratories     40 percent
     
Lawrence Livermore 
  National Laboratory  30 percent 
  
Workers at Sandia National Laboratories

During calendar year 1993, Sandia National Laboratory monitored approximately 650 individuals for potential internal doses. There were no positive doses at the Sandia National Laboratory, New Mexico location. At the Sandia National Laboratories, California, chronic tritium (H-3) doses are followed. Fifteen individuals had positive doses in excess of 1 mrem committed effective dose equivalent. Doses ranged from 1 mrem committed effective dose equivalent to 19 mrem committed effective dose equivalent with 3 individuals with internal doses in excess of 10 mrem committed effective dose equivalent. There is no potential for plutonium exposure at the Sandia National Laboratories, California, and only very small, if even measurable uranium dose potential. There were no reported uranium doses.

An internal dosimetry program at Sandia National Laboratories (except for Sandia National Laboratories, California) has only been implemented since 1992. Previous to that time, internal dosimetry data was only collected on an informal basis to ensure workers were not being significantly exposed. Some routine uranium monitoring was performed for heavy metal toxicity. Since no doses exceeded 100 mrem committed effective dose equivalent, followup was not considered necessary.


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