From then on, it is the actinides (specifically, isotopes of plutonium, americium
, and curium) that will contribute most to radioactive decay heat.
Analysis of the plates revealed the presence of a total of about 3 grams of plutonium and americium
. EEAE President Leonidas Kamarinopoulos indicated that the presence of plutonium is particularly dangerous.
During the initial tests done in this study, the radiation was provided by an Americium
241 source instead of an x-ray source.
In this study, a PERALS[R] spectrophotometer in combination with a new extractive scintillation cocktail was used in the detection of plutonium, americium
, thorium, and uranium isotopes in water and simulated wastewater samples.
The document, dated December 13, 1991, is entitled "Preliminary Evaluation of Potential Department of Energy Radioactive Wastes." It found that the levels of plutonium and radioactive americium
"detected at Lowry Landfill are 10 to 10,000 times greater than the average or maximum background levels reported for Rocky Flats," the notorious nuclear weapons plant near Boulder.
Products of the project included maps of the americium
, cesium, potassium, uranium and thorium concentrations in the area of the nuclear facility.
A customer-service representative named Beth Weber wrote back to say she'd be happy to help out with "your report." She explained that each detector contains only a tiny amount of americium-241, which is sealed in a gold matrix "to make sure that corrosion does not break it down and release it." Thanks to Weber's tip, David extracted the americium
components and then welded them together with a blowtorch.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent inspectors to investigate because the gauge was crushed, exposing the gauge's radioactive elements - cesium and americium
. The potential for accidents involving radioactivity add significantly to the already tedious safety, precautions and record-keeping.
Many people forget that every radioactive element decays and that a smoke detector has a finite lifetime (the "good until" date usually stamped in the plastic case) beyond which the remaining amount of radiation from the americium
is too low to activate the smoke detector.
A small quantity of radioactive material (Americium
241) in this device's sensing chamber throws off a constant stream of radioactive particles which, in turn creates an electric charge in the chamber.
Nuclear waste, larded with plutonium, americium
(more toxic than plutonium), curium, neptunium, radioactive cesium, strontium and iodine, accumulates at 435 reactors around the world.
In fact the hazard isn't much different from similar substances that emit alpha particles, such as the decay products of radon gas, or the americium
in your smoke detector.