Safety of Plutonium-238 Activities at Mound Laboratory

EMD-77-49: Published: Jun 29, 1977. Publicly Released: Jun 29, 1977.

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The situation at the plutonium processing building at Mound Laboratory near Dayton, Ohio, has potentially serious safety implications. The building was constructed in 1967 to process plutonium-238 to be used in nuclear generators for the space program.

Previous studies have cited radiological hazards at the Mound Laboratory operation. Despite safety concerns, plutonium-238 operations were expanded. In 1975, the Energy Development and Research Administration (ERDA) had an opportunity to produce a nuclear component at another facility, but determined that it would be more economical to continue production at Mound. ERDA's Division of Military Application recently determined that its program at Mound involving plutonium-238 operations would be completed in 1979, rather than 1981 as scheduled, and that no programs beyond the present military program would be located in the plutonium processing building.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Before determining whether it is reasonable to halt plutonium-238 operations, the Administrator of ERDA should determine whether the mission goals of ERDA's military programs override the safety concerns associated with the continued operation of the building. He should also determine whether responsible officials have kept the Congress fully and currently informed of the situation at Mound.

 

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