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Radioactive Properties - doe-hdbk-1113-98_reaffirm_2005_040044
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Radiological Safety Trainign for Uranium Facilities
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Module 101 Properties of Uranium - doe-hdbk-1113-98_reaffirm_2005_040046


DOE-HDBK-1113-98
Module 101 Properties of Uranium
Lesson Plan
Instructor's Notes
All isotopes of uranium are fissionable, which means they
can be fissioned by fast neutrons. Two isotopes, 233U and
235U, are fissile, which means they can also be fissioned
by slow (thermal) neutrons. A fissile material can be
involved in a criticality accident, resulting in the release
of a lethal amount of radiation. Criticality is discussed in
more detail in Module 105- Criticality Safety.
The primary isotopes of uranium are all long-lived alpha
emitters. However, several other radionuclides can be
radiologically significant at uranium facilities, depending
on the history of the uranium materials and the
processing. These other radionuclides include the
following beta emitters: 234Th, 234mPa, 231Th, and
99Tc. The degree of enrichment also affects the controls
that are required for external radiation exposure because
of the increase in the amount of gamma-emitting 235U
that is present. The uranium daughter products may also
include some low energy gamma and x-ray radiation. For
example, the daughter products of 232U represent a
potential gamma emission hazard.
Although there are several isotopes of uranium, only three
exist naturally, and all three are radioactive. See the table
below for half-lives and natural percent abundance for
important uranium isotopes in the nuclear fuel cycle.
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