Cold War nuclear artifact prompts police call

February 12, 2024, 10:31AMANS Nuclear Cafe

It’s not every day that local police departments find nuclear missiles in garages. But that’s what the bomb squad of the Bellevue, Washington, police department encountered on February 1 when they responded to a call. Fortunately, the missile turned out to be inert. It was a McDonnell Douglas AIR-2A Genie unguided air-to-air rocket (once known as an MB-1), which was designed to carry a 1.5 kiloton W25 nuclear warhead, but there was no warhead on the rusted rocket in the garage.

Tank waste disposal

November 17, 2023, 3:01PMNuclear NewsChris O’Neil
The 2F Evaporator at SRS. (Photo: Savannah River Site Photography)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management is responsible for roughly 90 million gallons of radioactive liquid waste at Idaho National Laboratory, the Hanford Site in Washington state, and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. About 900,000 gallons of waste are stored at INL, 56 million gallons at Hanford, and roughly 36 million at SRS. A further 400,000 gallons of waste from various operations are being stored at the Oak Ridge Site in Tennessee.

Renewed effort on Radiation Exposure Compensation Act

July 14, 2023, 12:01PMNuclear News


Bipartisan legislation has been reintroduced in Congress to strengthen the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), improving compensation for people who were exposed to radiation as a result of working in uranium mines or living near sites of nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War. The legislation was introduced recently in the Senate by Sens. Mike Crapo (R., Idaho) and Ben Ray Luján (D., N.M.) and in the House by Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (D., N.M.) and Del. James Moylan (R., Guam).

Follow-up bill: Originally introduced by Crapo in 2021, S. 2798 was put forward again to follow up on the success that Crapo, Luján, and Fernández had last year in extending the RECA program into 2024. The reintroduced bill, which added Moylan as a sponsor, would extend the program further to cover more communities with former uranium workers and “downwinders” (people who were exposed to radiation because they lived downwind from weapons testing sites). While the original legislation covered people in parts of Utah, Nevada, and Arizona, the bill will now also cover those who lived in Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, and Guam.

SRS’s H Canyon replaces essential crane motor

May 9, 2023, 9:33AMRadwaste Solutions
Crews recently replaced a motor in a crane at the SRS H Canyon for the first time in the facility’s 70-year history. (Photo: DOE)

Work crews at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina recently replaced a motor on a crane in the 70-year-old H Canyon Chemical Separations Facility. H Canyon is the only production-scale, radiologically shielded chemical separations plant in operation in the United States.

The Hanford B Reactor

February 13, 2023, 11:49AMNuclear NewsJeremy Hampshire
Front face of the B Reactor at the Hanford Site. (Photo: DOE)

In remote southeastern Washington you will find the sprawling Hanford Site, which was constructed to produce plutonium for the Manhattan Project. Within this complex is the first plutonium production reactor, the Hanford B Reactor. The DuPont Corporation was responsible for construction and operation of the B Reactor. Due to the urgency of the Manhattan Project, construction was completed in just over a year, and The B Reactor went critical on September 26, 1944. After the needs of the Manhattan Project were satisfied, the reactor was briefly shut down and then restarted to produce plutonium for roughly another 20 years, supporting Cold War efforts. In addition to plutonium production, the B Reactor also pioneered the process to produce tritium for the first-ever thermonuclear test.

The male business of nuclear diplomacy

November 30, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear CafeMaria Rentetzi

Maria Rentetzi

An unusual event during the recent General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency distracted the delegations of member states and the press from the Russian war in Ukraine and the fear of the next nuclear disaster. It was a small exhibition, Building the IAEA Headquarters and its Laboratories, at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, which brought to life the history of the agency’s laboratories through photographs, original letters and documents, explanatory texts, and timetables.

I was invited to participate in a related panel discussion that shed light on the early days of the “world’s first full-fledged laboratory of a truly international character” (in the words of an article about Seibersdorf Laboratory that ran in the January 1962 edition of the IAEA Bulletin) and its role in science diplomacy. There, I spoke of something that had struck me: Women were totally missing from the agency during this early period—making nuclear diplomacy an exclusively male business. To a large extent (as, for example, the recent IAEA missions to Ukraine show) nuclear continues to be a gendered endeavor.

Former secretary of state George Shultz dies at 100

February 8, 2021, 10:32AMANS Nuclear Cafe


George P. Shultz, a former U.S. secretary of state who played a central role in helping bring the Cold War to an end, died Saturday at 100, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University announced.

ANS connection: Shultz, an ANS member, was honored during the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting with a celebration of his 100th birthday. He provided recorded comments on the increasing challenges facing policy decisions related to climate change, artificial intelligence, and advanced manufacturing/3D printing. Former senator Sam Nunn reviewed Shultz’s “500 years' worth” of accomplishments and service to the United States.

ANS has issued a statement on the passing of George Schultz.