Uranium isotopic signatures measured in samples of dirt collected at two former uranium facilities
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Nuclear forensics is a multidisciplinary science that uses a variety of analytical methods and tools to explore the physical, chemical, and isotopic characteristics of nuclear and radiological materials. These characteristics, when evaluated alone or in combination, become signatures that may reveal how and when the material was fabricated. The signatures contained in samples of dirt collected at two different uranium metal processing facilities in the United States were evaluated to determine uranium isotopic composition and compare results with processes that were conducted at these sites. One site refined uranium and fabricated uranium metal ingots for fuel and targets and the other site rolled hot forged uranium and other metals into dimensional rods. Unique signatures were found that are consistent with the activities and processes conducted at each facility and establish confidence in using these characteristics to reveal the provenance of other materials that exhibit similar signatures.
KeywordsNuclear forensics Isotopic signatures Uranium Thorium MC-ICP-MS
The authors would like to thank Dr. Ross Williams from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for his expertise and assistance with this research. The authors would also like to thank the U.S. Department of Energy’s Nuclear Materials Information Program for funding this project. This work was part performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under Contract DE-AC52-07NA27344. This research was part based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under Grant Award Number, 2012-DN-130- NF0001-02. This research was part performed under the Nuclear Forensics Graduate Fellowship Program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and the U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
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