Isotopes & Radiation

Decay on Demand: DARPA’s bid to disrupt isotope production

July 2, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News
Source: DARPA

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Defense Sciences Office (DSO) wants to mimic and accelerate the natural half-life decay chain of alpha-emitting radioisotopes and plans to invite proposals for experimental or theoretical research tracks under Decay on Demand—a new DARPA disruptioneering opportunity. The solicitation was published in draft form on June 27.

IAEA: released Fukushima water below operational limits

March 6, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
An IAEA task force visited Fukushima in October 2023 to review the safety of TEPCO’s discharge of ALPS-treated water. (Photo: TEPCO)

International Atomic Energy Agency experts have confirmed that the tritium concentration in the fourth batch of treated water released from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is far below the country’s operational limit.

What is involved in radiation protection at accelerator facilities?

February 29, 2024, 3:03PMNuclear NewsIrina Popova

Irina Popova

Particle accelerators have evolved from exotic machines probing hadron interactions to understand the fundamentals of our world to widely used instruments in research and for medical and industrial use. For research purposes, high-power machines are employed, often producing secondary particle beams through primary beam interaction with a target material involving many meters of shielding. The charged beam interacts with the surrounding structures, producing both prompt radiation and secondary radiation from activated materials. After beam termination, some parts of the facility remain radioactive and potentially can become radiation hazards over time. Radiation protection for accelerator facilities involves a range of actions for operation within safe boundaries (an accelerator safety envelope). Each facility establishes fundamental safety principles, requirements, and measures to control radiation exposure to people and the release of radioactive material in the environment.

Cancer-resistant genes in wolf population at Chernobyl?

February 13, 2024, 9:40AMANS Nuclear Cafe


The thriving gray wolf population in the Chernobyl exclusion zone (CEZ) has been the subject of recent media interest. While some sensationalist reports have referred to “mutant wolves” with “superpowers,” other news outlets have offered more sober discussions of the science behind the story.

Cara N. Love, a biologist and postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, has been following the wolf population. Her research in the Chernobyl exclusion zone (CEZ) in Ukraine and Polesie State Radioecological Reserve in Belarus is helping biologists understand how nature adapts to chronic radiation exposure.

Framatome to work with Romania’s Nuclearelectrica on Lu-177 production

December 4, 2023, 6:58AMNuclear NewsGuest Contributor
Framatome CEO Bernard Fontana (left) and Teodor Chirica, Nuclearelectrica board president, shake hands following the signing of the Lu-177 MOU in Paris. (Photo: Framatome)

Framatome and Nuclearelectrica, operator of Romania’s Cernavoda nuclear power plant, announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding to explore the possibility of producing the medical isotope lutetium-177. The cooperative agreement was signed during the World Nuclear Exhibition 2023, held November 28–30 in Paris.

Nucleus RadioPharma to receive Lu-177 under agreement with SHINE

November 21, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

Wisconsin-based fusion technology company SHINE Technologies has signed a long-term supply agreement with Nucleus RadioPharma for the supply of lutetium-177, a radioisotope used in cancer treatment therapies, including those in development for the treatment of neuroendocrine tumors, prostate cancer, and other solid tumors.

New standard available from ANS

August 22, 2023, 3:11PMANS News

The American Nuclear Society has published the following new standard, which is available for purchase in the ANS Store:

ANSI/ANS-8.21-2023, Use of Fixed Neutron Absorbers in Nuclear Facilities Outside Reactors (revision of ANSI/ANS-8.21-1995; R2019)

NRC draft guidance may complicate patient access to cancer treatment

August 18, 2023, 8:53AMNuclear News

A Nuclear Regulatory Commission draft regulatory guide—DG-8061, “Release of Patients Administered Radioactive Material”—proposes guidance on the release of patients after a medical procedure involving the administration of radiopharmaceuticals or the implantation of a sealed source. The guidance is intended to help licensees interpret NRC regulations designed to protect the people—family, friends, caregivers, or members of the general public—who may be in proximity to a patient who is discharged after receiving nuclear medicine treatment.

IAEA’s sealed sources management review service completes first mission

August 11, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
A new IAEA peer review service demonstrates the proper management of disused sealed radioactive sources. (Photos: IAEA [left] and TINT [right])

The International Atomic Energy Agency has carried out the first mission of its Disused Sealed Radioactive Sources Technical Centre peer review service, or DSRS TeC, at the Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology (TINT) in Bangkok. Held July 18–21, the inaugural mission was supported by funds from the United States.

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.

NNSA announces progress in Mo-99 production using LEU

April 4, 2023, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

After more than a decade of global efforts led by the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, all four major medical producers of the radioisotope molybdenum-99 for the U.S. market are now using low-enriched uranium (LEU) in their production processes instead of high-enriched uranium (HEU), the latter of which presents risks of nuclear weapons proliferation.

Leak of radioactive water at Monticello makes headlines

March 21, 2023, 12:19PMNuclear News
The Monticello nuclear power plant. (Photo: NRC)

An Xcel Energy news release issued last week regarding the leak of some 400,000 gallons of tritium-containing water at Minnesota’s Monticello nuclear power plant in 2022 has sparked a flood of news stories over the past few days—in large part because the general public had previously been unaware of the leak. (A low-level beta emitter, tritium is a common byproduct of nuclear reactor operation.)

Forward fusion: Building a nuclear future in Wisconsin

January 13, 2023, 3:27PMNuclear NewsTim Gregoire
SHINE’s isotope production building, called the Chrysalis, under construction in October 2022.

In a former farm field just outside the historic town of Janesville in south-central Wisconsin, a large concrete-and-steel building is taking shape. Dubbed the Chrysalis, the building will eventually house eight accelerator-based neutron generators, which start-up company SHINE Technologies will use to produce molybdenum-99. As the precursor to the medical radioisotope technetium-99m, Mo-99 is used in tens of millions of diagnostic procedures every year, primarily as a radioactive tracer.

At the heart of the Chrysalis will be the high-flux neutron generators, being supplied by SHINE’s sister company, Phoenix. The compact accelerators use a deuterium-tritium fusion process to produce neutrons, which in turn induce a subcritical fission reaction in an aqueous low-enriched uranium target (19.75 percent uranium-235) to produce Mo-99.

DOE evaluates wearable robotic devices to aid cleanup workforce

November 4, 2022, 7:09AMRadwaste Solutions
Nicholas Spivey, left, an SRNL mechanical engineer, and Kurt Gerdes, director of EM’s Office of Technology Development, use virtual reality simulation of an EM worksite during meetings held at the IHMC in Pensacola, Fla. (Photo: DOE)

For the first time since forming in 2020, more than 40 members of a Department of Energy team met in person to evaluate technologies, including exoskeletons and wearable robotic devices, that could be adapted to the cleanup mission of department’s Office of Environmental Management (EM), helping improve the safety and well-being of its workers.

The trouble with tritium

October 31, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear NewsJames Conca

The trouble with tritium is there is no trouble with tritium.

At any level outside the laboratory, either experimental or manufacturing, tritium is harmless. Every year, we routinely release millions of gallons of slightly tritiated water to the ocean, large lakes, and large rivers from almost every commercial nuclear reactor in the world, and have done so for decades, all in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards. And no adverse effects on the environment or humans have ever been seen.

Interactive Isotopes App launches on ANS website

October 27, 2022, 3:01PMANS News
A screenshot of the Interactive Isotopes App from the ANS website depicting U-235 and its decay chain. (Graphic: ANS)

In the summer of 2019, three students from the University of South Carolina–Aiken (USCA) had an idea to digitize the isotope. Wei Zheng, Drake Jones, and Joseph Taylor set out to design an app that would be an interactive one-stop shop for information about any isotope—number of protons and neutrons, whether it is stable or radioactive, its natural abundance on earth, and even its uses. From these ideas, the Interactive Isotopes App began to take shape.

The app’s launch was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic; although it was complete after three years of work and development, the creators sat on it. On October 12, the app at long last went live on the ANS website.

DOE breaks ground on isotope production center at Oak Ridge

October 26, 2022, 12:20PMNuclear News
Secretary Granholm, center, leads breaking the ground for the SIPRC at ORNL, along with (from left) ORNL site manager Johnny Moore, ORNL director Thomas Zacharia; DOE undersecretary for science and innovation Geraldine Richmond; and DOE Office of Science director Asmeret Asefaw Berhe. (Photo: Genevieve Martin/ORNL/DOE)

The Department of Energy held a groundbreaking ceremony on October 24 for the Stable Isotope Production and Research Center (SIPRC) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The center is being built to expand the nation’s capability to enrich stable isotopes for medical, industrial, and research applications.