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Module 102 The Nuclear Fuel Cycle
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Radiological Safety Training for Uranium Facilities - index
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Sources of Uranium - hdbk1113cn10058


DOE-HDBK-1113-98
Module 102 The Nuclear Fuel Cycle
Lesson Plan
Instructor's Notes
Later investigators, such as Marie Curie, isolated other
radioactive elements from uranium ores. These elements
are produced from the radioactive decay of uranium. The
radioactive emission of an alpha particle causes uranium to
change into thorium. Thorium goes on to decay to other
elements, and so on, until a stable element such as lead is
reached.
Radium and radon are the two most we ll-known radioa ctive
decay products of uranium. Radium was once used for
luminous instrument dials and other products. Radon is a
heavy radioactive gas that can accumulate in buildings and
mines. Typically, these radioactive decay products are
more hazardous than the uranium itself.
The importance of uranium increased dramatically with the
discovery of nuclear fission in 1938, the production of
plutonium in 1940, and the construction of the first reactor
in 1942 under the direction of Enrico Fermi. These
accomplishments led to the Manhattan Project, in which
uranium was enriched at Oak Ridge or converted into
plutonium at Hanford. These products were used to
assemble the first atomic bombs at Los Alamos in 1945.
After the end of World War II in 1945, the importance of
uranium remained high. Production of uranium and
plutonium for "atomic" or "nuclear" weapons continued
throughout the Cold War. In addition, nuclear reactors
were built for the propulsion of naval submarines and ships,
and for the commercial production of elect ricity. Now,
20


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