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(last updated 19 Oct 2011)
> View Superconductor breakthrough could power new advances, July 12, 2010 (Univ. of Cambridge)
Uranchemie zwischen Phobie und Begeisterung, by C. Hauser, K. Meyer, in: Nachrichten aus der Chemie No. 12, Vol. 55 (2007), p. 1195-1199
On May 21, 2007, the NRC issued an Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact proposing for Termination of the License and Unrestricted Release of the Exxonmobil Refining & Supply C.O., Facility in Billings, Montana.
This license authorized the Licensee to use depleted uranium (DU) catalysts in 84 furnace tubes of a F-551 Reformer Furnace at a hydrogen manufacturing plant. Hydrogen carbon gas was passed through the tubes with the rings acting as a catalyst, to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The Licensee used this process from 1980 to 1986.
In 1986, the tubes were replaced with a non-radioactive nickel-molybdenum catalyst. Residual radioactivity was decontaminated.
The Licensee conducted surveys of the Facility and provided information to the NRC to demonstrate that the furnace component contributed less than 0.01 millisievert/year (mSv/yr) (1 millirem(mrem)/year) and therefore, the Facility meets the criteria in Subpart E of 10 CFR Part 20 for unrestricted release and for license termination.
Federal Register: May 29, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 102) p. 29552-29555 (download full text )
> Download CRIIRAD release Feb. 24, 2004 (MS Word, in French)
> Download Summary of CRIIRAD report, Feb. 21, 2004 (MS Word, in French)
"(1) Max quantity: 1,750,000 kg of moist powder that's approximately 25% mixed metal oxides catalyst fines, 25% diatomaceous earth (filter aid) and 50% water. The catalyst is approximately 10% depleted uranium, so the U content of the mixture is approximately 2%. Although percentages are expressed as U, the depleted uranium (DU) exists in the oxide form. Maximum DU content would be approximately 35,000 kg over the 10 year period. The content of U-235 is approximately 0.0050 weight%.
(5) The imported volume would be approximately 4000 55-gallon drums in the first year (that's in a warehouse) and roughly 350 to 700 drums/year in following years. [...]
(7) Because the Korean government has not yet established a disposal site in Korea for the spent catalyst, Tae Kwang has asked Solutia and Sud-Chemie to find an alternative site in order to continue buying the acrylonitrile catalyst from Solutia. [...] "
> see: IUC forms joint venture with NFS to recycle DOE's contaminated low enriched uranium
> See also: Landtag Nordrhein-Westfalen, Drucksache 13/1054, 12.04.2001: Antwort der Landesregierung auf die Kleine Anfrage 287 der Abgeordneten Reiner Priggen und Johannes Remmel, Grüne, Drucksache 13/778, Entsorgung von rund 400 Fässern mit radioaktiven Abfällen in Krefeld
"On October 24, 2000, the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) notified Region I that depleted uranium (DU) blocks, removed from a linear accelerator (Linac), were found at the South Pittsburgh Cancer Center (SPCC). It was determined that SPCC purchased the Linac from Mercy Hospital over two years ago, to be sent to Columbia, South America. The proposed recipient in Columbia declined to take the unit and the unit was then disassembled at the SPCC facility and the pieces, including the DU components, were sent to a scrap yard for disposal. When the pieces containing DU arrived at the scrap yard, the radiation monitor alarmed. The unit was subsequently returned to the SPCC." [...]> View NRC Preliminary Notification Oct. 25, 2000
> See also:
Federal Register: October 7, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 194) p. 57934 (download full text )
A request for a hearing or petition for leave to intervene may be filed within 30 days after October 7, 2003.
"In accordance with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Regulatory Issue Summary Number 2001-13 [10 CFR Part 40 Exemptions for Uranium Contained in Aircraft Counterweights, dated July 20, 2001], it is BRC's position that when counterweights with plating or covering intact are no longer to be used for their intended purposes, the end user may transfer the counterweights to an unlicensed disposal facility that accepts exempt radioactive material as long as:Based on this statement, the NRC, by letter dated Nov. 2, 2001, approved the resumption of imports according to import license IW010.
If the conditions detailed above are met, the depleted uranium aircraft counterweights in question may be disposed in a facility in Texas not licensed for the disposal of radioactive material [e.g., WCS]."
- the counterweights have been manufactured in accordance with a specific license to manufacture and distribute such items;
- each counterweight has been impressed, legibly, through any plating or covering, with the words "Depleted Uranium;"
- the counterweights have durable and legible markings or labels with the identification of the manufacturer, and a statement, "Unauthorized Alteration Prohibited;" and
- the exemption does not authorize any chemical, physical, or metallurgical treatment or processing of the counterweight, other than repair or restoration of any plating or other covering. Cutting, grinding, or smelting of uranium counterweights would therefore violate the conditions of the exemption, and are activities that require an NRC license.
"Pursuant to Section 182 of the Atomic Energy Act, we request that Philotechnics provide written confirmation, addressed to the undersigned and within 20 days from the date of this letter, that it will refrain from importing any depleted uranium under license IW010 until arrangements for disposal of the non-recyclable radioactive materials have been made in conformance with applicable law, and the NRC has received verification of such arrangements." [...]
"it is BRC's position that the counterweights are not exempt from regulation and must be disposed in a facility licensed for the disposal of radioactive material. Waste Control Specialists in Andrews County, Texas, is not licensed for the disposal of radioactive material and may not accept the counterweights for disposal."
"Application for a License To Import Radioactive WasteName of applicant: Philotechnics, Ltd.
Pursuant to 10 CFR 110.70(c) ''Public notice of receipt of an application'', please take notice that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has received the following application for an import license. Copies of the application are available electronically through ADAMS and can be accessed through the Public Electronic Reading Room (PERR) link http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html at the NRC Homepage.
A request for a hearing or petition for leave to intervene may be filed within 30 days after publication of this notice in the Federal Register." (emphasis added)
The license IW010 was issued by NRC on Nov. 8, 2000.
SUMMARY: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has received, and requests public comment on, a petition for rulemaking filed by David A. Barbour, Philotechnics . The petition has been docketed by the Commission and assigned Docket No. PRM-40-28. The petitioner requests that the NRC amend its regulations governing the domestic licensing of source material to provide additional rules for the effective control of depleted uranium aircraft counterweights. The petitioner believes that this regulatory clarification should address a number of issues concerning the exemption, storage, and disposal of these devices.(emphasis added)
DATES: Submit comments by April 5, 2000. Comments received after this date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but assurance of consideration cannot be given except as to comments received on or before this date." [...]
On July 20, 2001, the U.S. NRC released an Issue Summary to emphasize current restrictions, applicable to counterweights, and other products containing uranium, which are exempt from licensing requirements.
> View Issue Summary 2001-13: 10 CFR Part 40 Exemptions for Uranium Contained in Aircraft Counterweights
On Jan. 6, 2005, the NRC denied the petition - conceding however "that some additional clarification" may be warranted. Therefore, the NRC plans to issue a regulatory information summary clarifying the existing exemption.
Federal Register: January 12, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 8) p. 2053-2057 (download full text )
The regulatory issue summary mentioned was issued on February 28, 2005. It clarifies that the exemption for repair only covers new painting of the counterweights (under conditions), but not electroplating etc., and it clarifies that the exemption for storage does not cover long-term storage for more than 24 months.
NRC Regulatory Issue Summary 2005-03, 10 CFR Part 40 Exemptions for uranium contained in aircraft counterweights - storage and repair, February 28, 2005
> Download: RIS 2005-03 · alternate source (467k PDF)
Urinary uranium and kidney function parameters in professional assistance workers in the Epidemiological Study Air Disaster in Amsterdam (ESADA), by Bijlsma JA, Slottje P, Huizink AC, et al., in: Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation: ahead of print publication Oct 26, 2007
> View Dutch Health Ministry news release, July 8, 2004 (in Dutch)
> View Dutch Health Minister's statement, July 8, 2004 (in Dutch)
> Download study report: Rapportage Individuele FISH-test Vliegramp Bijlmermeer, Juli 2004 (57k PDF - in Dutch)
"Furthermore, no differences were detected in uranium concentrations in the urine of those involved and those not involved. Similarly no differences were detected in kidney functioning. "> See Medisch Onderzoek Vliegramp Bijlmermeer (Medical Investigation into the Bijlmermeer Aviation Disaster)
Uranium Pollution from the Amsterdam 1992 Plane Crash , by Henk v.d. Keur: in: WISE News Communique No.463/464, Dec. 13, 1996, p.12-15
> see also:
Radiation Exposure from Depleted Uranium Counterweights
U.S. FAA Advisory Circular No. 20-123: Avoiding Or Minimizing Encounters With Aircraft Equipped With Depleted Uranium Balance Weights During Accident Investigations, Dec. 20, 1984
U.S. NRC Health Physics Position HPPOS-206: Boeing Company Request Concerning Depleted Uranium Counterweights, 1983
On Sep. 16, 2010, the NRC issued a Notice of Violation to glass manufacturer Fenton Art Glass Company in Williamstown, West Virginia.
The company holds an NRC license allowing "Possession incident to the use as a coloring agent in the manufacture of decorative glassware (not to exceed 1% of uranium by weight in glass products)".
The violations involved: possession of depleted uranium oxide powder in excess of the authorized license limit; the failure to perform the required periodic review of the radiation protection program; and, the failure to conduct required training.
> Download NRC Inspection Report No. 04003149/2010001, Fenton Art Glass Company, Williamstown, West Virginia site and Notice of Violation , Sep. 16, 2010 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML102590398)
The powder is sold at a price of 480 FF (US$ 74) per kg incl. tax by Cristallerie de Saint-Paul at Condat-sur-Vienne (Haute-Vienne), the only producer of enamel powder for use on copper, silver, and gold in France. Until very recently, the powder was sold without any mention of its hazards.
For the handicraft-artists using the powder for manufacturing enamel jewelry, the powder presents an inhalation hazard. The annual dose limit for the public of 1 mSv corresponds to the inhalation of 14 - 45 milli-grams of the powder (depending on age).
For the users of the jewelry, there exists the external radiation hazard to the skin: for continuous exposure, the skin dose would be 0.6 mSv per year, assuming that 1% of the skin would be irradiated. There moreover exists the risk of dissolution of toxic uranium from the enamel.
The depleted uranium used in the powder was sold by Cogéma's Pierrelatte facility, where depleted UF6 is being converted to the form of U3O8 for long-term storage in the Bessines storage facility.
Uranium was widely used as a coloring matter for porcelain and glass in the 19th century. The total production of uranium colors was 260 tonnes (with an uranium contents of 70%), 150 tonnes of which were used for uranium glass. While the uranium in those times had to be mined at high cost, depleted uranium now is available at virtually no cost, since it is a waste from the uranium enrichment process.
This use of depleted uranium in enamel resumes, after nearly 100 years, the practice of dispersing the radiating and toxic uranium in everyday's items, a practice that was believed to be a matter of history.
> View CRII-RAD release of Oct. 27, 1999 (in French)
> See also Radiation Exposure from Household Items Containing Uranium
On February 14, 2000, Cogema confirmed that it has made a decision to stop the sale of depleted uranium to producers of enamel and glass. Instead, all of Cogema's depleted uranium will be stored (see Bessines storage project) or re-enriched (see details).
> View CRII-RAD release of Feb. 14, 2000 (in French)
In August 2011, the matter of the radiation dose resulting from former use of powder "jaune no.17" in enamel resurfaced in France, when a collector of enamel jewelry found Geiger counter readings up to 20 ÁSv/h at the surface of his enamel items.
An investigation by radiation protection authority IRSN confirmed gamma and beta rates up to 20 times background at the surface of the items, but concluded that the resulting effective doses were negligible.
> View IRSN release Sep. 5, 2011 (in French)
> Download IRSN's technical note Sep. 2, 2011 (PDF - in French)
The independent radiation monitoring laboratory CRIIRAD rather claims that the use of depleted uranium in these enamel items well presents a health hazard. (Le Populaire du Centre, Oct. 19, 2011)
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