The Cold War gift that keeps on giving. Just testing the the Davy Crockett may have contaminated 12,000 acres around Fort Carson with uranium and depleted uranium residue. “In the general mindset of the era, it was deemed a requirement for more covert, squad level nuclear weaponry…called the ‘Davy Crockett,’ it was a 155mm caliber tactical nuclear recoilless gun” With an explosive yield of .01-.02 kilotons, or the equivalent of 10 to 20 tons of TNT the Davy Crockett was developed for covert units to destroy Soviet infrastructure, engage tank formations or repel larger units. As the largest conventional ordinance has a blast yield of 11 tons of TNT and was short ranged, very inaccurate and likely to expose users to radioactive fallout and contaminate large areas for years, the weapon was wisely discontinued. Previously [more inside]
In a six-month agreement, Iran will cap uranium enrichment at the 5% level, reduce its stockpile of already enriched uranium, and allow for more robust international inspections. In return, it will receive no new nuclear sanctions and "sanction relief" in the amount of $7 billion. [more inside]
The International Atomic Energy Agency says that Iran has tripled its production of >20% enriched uranium in the past three months, while adding 2,600 new uranium centrifuges to its main enrichment facility in Natanz. The agency has not received a "satisfactory explanation" of how 20kg of uranium metal went missing from an Iranian research laboratory. Iran has been blocking IAEA inspections, and the agency "is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities". In recent years, Russia and China have chosen to limit UN sanctions against Iran, whose government denies it aims to make atomic weapons.
A Political Meltdown: For decades, Canada has been a world leader in the production of medical isotopes. So why did the government announce that it was dumping the entire program? (alt)
The first nuclear reactor was in Africa, 2 billion years ago. Two billion years ago, there was enough uranium 235 in a naturally occurring deposit in Africa to fuel a nuclear fission reaction. In 16 separate locations, spontaneously occurring fission reactions went on for some hundreds of thousands of years, cycling multiple times per day. A picture of Fossil Reactor 15. The American Nuclear Society info site.
It has gone by many names. "National Reactor Testing Station" (1949-1975), "Energy Research and Development Administration" (1975-1977), "Idaho National Engineering Laboratory" (1977-1997), the "Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory" (1997-2005), and now the "Idaho National Laboratory" (2005-present). It has been the site of more than 50 nuclear reactors, which has resulted in a fair bit of environmental impact. In 2000, the US Department of Energy published (and has since made available on the web) a history of the laboratory over its first 50 years: "Proving the Principle."
Removing 600 kilos of enriched U-235: the story of how, in 1994, the United States secretly removed from Kazakhstan enough purified uranium to make 24 nuclear weapons. (Full article with one photo.) Russian bomb-grade uranium is now being used in U.S. power plants.
Earlier this week this story about illegal uranium sales was in the news. Had they been thinking they could have ordered online here and here. BTW, check out what else customers are buying.
Kerr Magee had applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to call their waste an "experimental fertilizer" and just spread it over the top of the land.
Depleted uranium is now understood to have many medical consequences unique to its modern application as munitions, due to its incendiary, aerosolizing behavior when pulverized. (Rosalie Bertell explains, youtube) It has become a leading candidate for the cause of Gulf War syndrome, and was associated with massive increases in cancer and birth defects in Basra. The EU has called for a moratorium on its use four times, and WHO is deeply concerned with its consequences, but the USA (with Canadian complicity) and Russia continue to use it in Iraq and elsewhere. (prev: 1 2 3 4 5)
From Hunter to Hunted "In his quest to free slaves around the world, Aaron Cohen thought he’d seen it all. Then he went to Myanmar."
Blighted Homeland. "From 1944 to 1986, 3.9 million tons of uranium ore were dug and blasted from Navajo soil, nearly all of it for America's atomic arsenal. Navajos inhaled radioactive dust, drank contaminated water and built homes using rock from the mines and mills. Many of the dangers persist to this day." A series of articles and photo galleries examines the legacy of uranium mining on the Navajo (previously discussed here.) [Via Gristmill, BugMeNot.]
Turkish Police Seize 33lbs of Weapons-Grade Uranium. The destination of the Uranium is still under investigation but it was seized 155 miles from the Iraqi border.