Confirmation that SRS Plutonium was taken to DOE’s Pantex Site in Texas

The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB), which conducts oversight of DOE projects, has confirmed that plutonium from SRS was taken to the Pantex site in Texas, for storage. Sounds like it’s being stored in bunkers where plutonium pits (from nuclear weapons) are stored. SRS Watch | March 8, 2022

DOE photos:  Plutonium storage drums – 9975s – stacked high in the old K-Reactor at SRS.  The site stores 11.5 metric tons of plutonium.  SES produced 36 MT of plutonium in five reactors dedicated to producing nuclear weapons materials.

It is unclear what the fate of this plutonium will be, which was removed from SRS due to legal requirements to do so. the amount that went to Pantex is likely 500 kilograms (0.5 metric tons).  3 kg is enough for a pit in a nuclear weapon.

Will the Pu be shipped for a nuclear weapons use or will it be processed into oxide (if DOE moves the ARIES plutonium oxide conversion  process from Los Alamos National Lab to Pantex)?  SRS Watch has a Freedom of Information Act request in to DOE concerning the legally required analysis of moving ARIES to Pantex.  As usual, as the secretary of energy isn’t doing her job or paying attention to the public, that request languishes.

Plutonium from SRS was also taken to the Nevada Test Site for “staging.”

DNFSB weekly report:

January 14, 2022
TO: Christopher J. Roscetti, Technical Director
FROM: A. Gurevitch, M. Bradisse (acting), and C. Berg (acting), Resident Inspectors
SUBJECT: Pantex Plant Activity Report for Week Ending January 14, 2022

“Safety Basis: Last month, NPO issued a safety evaluation report approving a safety basis change package related to proposed plutonium metal disposition operations. The change package meets the NNSA direction to establish the capability to repackage and ship plutonium feedstock materials currently staged in Zone 4, having previously arrived from the Savannah River Site (SRS). The plutonium is currently packaged in a number of 3013 cans, which are in turn packaged in Type B 9975 containers (i.e., one 9975 container holds several 3013 cans). However, many of these 9975 containers have expired certificates of compliance and are therefore not certified for offsite shipment. Consequently, the proposed operations will involve Pantex personnel repackaging the 3013 cans into new, certified 9975 containers in preparation for offsite shipment. The operations should not involve direct exposure to nuclear material, as none of the 3013 containers will be opened. Additionally, NPO approved the plan of action for the contractor readiness assessment for these operations.”

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