design testing. Plutonium is an incidental radioisotope encountered at the Idaho Chemical
LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY
The Los Alamos National Laboratory conducts
nuclear weapons research, development and testing;
plutonium chemistry and metallurgy research;
fabrication of radioisotope thermoelectric generators;
explosives testing involving depleted uranium;
accelerator-based nuclear physics research and applied technologies;
tritium research and applications;
materials science and testing involving radioactive materials and accelerators;
nuclear criticality experimentation;
mixed fission product analysis including hot cell work;
decontamination and decommissioning of large scale radiological facilities; and
radioactive and mixed waste treatment and storage.
limited quantity of plutonium, which is handled and stored as a result of laboratory
operations. However, Building TA-55 has significant quantities of stored plutonium
including metal, oxides, and other residues.
The Mound plant manufactures neutron sources, chemical explosive detonators, explosive
timers, explosive actuated transducers, explosive switches, heat sources fueled with 210Po
and 238Pu, calorimeters, and some tritium-containing reservoirs. Other activities included
stockpile evaluation of small explosive and electrical components and tritium-containing
reservoirs, assembly and testing of radioisotopically fueled thermoelectric generators, and
the separation, purification and commercial sales of a variety of stable isotopes and tritium.
Prior to 1976, some work was done with unencapsulated 238Pu. However, after that time, all
heat source fabrication was done with encapsulated 238Pu. Since its beginning in 1954, the
isotopic heat source programs have produced numerous small and large General Purpose
Heat Sources for space applications, including the Apollo lunar missions, and cardiac
pacemakers. Limited activity is still in progress.
NEVADA TEST SITE
The Nevada Test Site has been used extensively for testing of nuclear weapons, both
surface and underground, as well as other related types of testing. Except for weapons
components and the residue of the testing programs, no plutonium has been handled,
processed, or stored at the site. A device assembly facility has been constructed on the site
but has not yet been used. It would handle plutonium only as prefabricated components.