NNSA Recovers 20,000 Radioactive Sources From Around the United States

Press Release
Jan 14, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced today that it has recovered over 20,000 excess and unwanted sealed radioactive sources in the United States.  These sources are made from plutonium, cesium, americium, cobalt, strontium and other radioactive materials.

"This major achievement in the removal of these radioactive sources ends any threat that they could be used in a dirty bomb," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino.  "NNSA's continued progress illustrates our comprehensive strategy to keep dangerous nuclear and radiological material safe and secure."

NNSA uses its Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and contracts with the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD) and three small business firms to recover radioactive sources from commercial firms and academic institutions after the sources are determined to be excess and unwanted, and when there is no other disposition path.  NNSA's source recovery efforts involve reporting to the proper state radiation safety agencies and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

NNSA's Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), responsible for the source recovery program, works around the United States to remove and securely manage radioactive materials that could be at risk for theft or diversion for use in a radiological dispersal device, or dirty bomb.  The program recovers and secures excess, unwanted, or abandoned radioactive sealed sources and other radioactive material. Sources containing radioactive plutonium, americium, californium, cesium, cobalt, iridium, radium, and strontium have been recovered from medical, educational, agricultural, research and industrial facilities throughout the nation.  Since 1997, the program has secured more than 20,000 radioactive sources from around the country. 

GTRI also works to recover orphaned sources internationally.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation's national security enterprise.  NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Media contact(s):
NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371