Module 101 Properties of Uranium
machined to provide a useful end product, and
milling chips and filings are unavoidable
Precautions must be taken to prevent chips and
filings from igniting. One precaution is submersing
the chips and filings in water or a mineral oil.
Storage in water produces hydrogen gas due to a
chemical reaction. To prevent the hydrogen gas
from reaching an explosive concentration, and to
prevent a pressure buildup, containers must be
vented. Incidents have occurred where container
lids have been blown off by unexpected gas
Once uranium starts to burn, it is extremely
difficult to extinguish. None of the typical
extinguishing methods, such as water, carbon
dioxide, or halon, is effective in fighting uranium
fires. In fact, halon may be explosive and produce
toxic fumes if used directly on the fire.
Normally, small fires may be put out by using
MET-L-X powder, which is a mixture of sodium
chloride (table salt) and potassium carbonate
(baking powder). When spread over the burning
metal in significant quantities, MET-L-X starves
the fire of oxygen.