Colorado plutonium brought to LANL

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By Roger Snodgrass

Plutonium from a Department of Commerce laboratory in Boulder, Colo., where a plutonium spill occurred last June “has been recovered and transferred to Los Alamos National Laboratory.”

Richard Kayser Interim Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Boulder Laboratories assured the Interim City Manager of Boulder in a letter Tuesday that “the great majority of the plutonium” at the laboratory has been removed.

Paul Hoover, a LANL radiation protection senior advisor, confirmed that three samples were transferred from Boulder to Los Alamos. Two were intact and can be used as standards by the laboratory. The third was damaged in the incident, but can be recovered.

“We consulted while a subcontractor (to NIST) packaged and shipped the samples in accordance with Department of Transportation requirements and in DOT-certified containers,” he said. “They were received last week at TA-55 (the LANL Plutonium Facility).”

On June 10, the Boulder office of NIST reported that researchers discovered that a vial containing about ¼ gram of powdered plutonium had cracked and that “some particles had spilled from the vial.”

The description of the basic mixture was later modified, but the amount of plutonium remained the same.