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The chances of U.S. radioactive sources falling into the hands of risky characters were reduced again last year with the help of a small team of scavengers at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The lab’s Off-Site Source Recovery Project, under supervision of the National Nuclear Security Administration, recently passed an important domestic milestone for getting dangerous materials out of the way.
The number of excess and unwanted sealed sources recovered in the United States since 1997 reached 20,000 last month.
“This major achievement in the removal of these radioactive sources ends any threat that they could be used in a dirty bomb,” NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino in an announcement.
According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, several million sealed sources are thought to exist around the world, at least 2 million in the U.S. alone.
They are used as batteries or radiation sources for a variety of military or industrial tools and processes, as well as medical and research applications. Some contain small amounts of highly radioactive materials like plutonium, cesium and americium that could be used in a dirty bomb, a potential terrorist weapon.
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