Los Alamos received plutonium from Boulder spill | SummitDaily.com

Los Alamos received plutonium from Boulder spill

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. ” Plutonium from a spill this summer at a U.S. Department of Commerce laboratory in Colorado has been transferred to Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Paul Hoover, a LANL radiation protection senior adviser, confirms that three samples were transferred from the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder to the Los Alamos lab.

He said two were intact and can be used as standards by the laboratory, while the third was damaged in the incident, but can be recovered.

Richard Kayser, interim director of NIST, said in a letter Tuesday to Boulder’s interim city manager that the “great majority” of the plutonium at the Boulder lab has been removed.

Hoover says the plutonium was transferred in Department of Transportation certified containers. They were received last week at Los Alamos lab’s plutonium facility, TA-55.

The plutonium spilled June 9 through a crack in a vial holding about a quarter-gram of powder containing the radioactive material.

Hoover visited the Boulder facility June 23-24 and conducted a safety review on the response to the spill.

He concluded that the response, other aspects of the safety environment and preparedness at the site were “less than adequate.”

The extent of the initial rupture of the container was not recognized, even though the experimenter taped up the source in a can and washed his hands, workers were not immediately evacuated and notification to safety personnel was delayed, Hoover said.

Hoover’s report also showed a supervisor at the Boulder facility made multiple entries to investigate the spill “without safety support, without understanding (the) hazard or implementing appropriate controls,” like respiratory protection.

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