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Page Title: Reduce the water content to less than 0.5 wt% and similarly reduce equivalent - Continued
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that multiple mechanisms exist which should ensure that substantial pressures of
hydrogen and oxygen cannot accumulate in plutonium storage environments.
Additional recent data on gas pressurization in plutonium storage environments
comes from the MIS program, where headspace gas pressure and composition
have been measured for containers from the Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP) at
Hanford [Mason et al. 1999]. These containers, which include impure oxides, had
been stored for up to 18 years. Common observations for those containers that
apparently remained gas-tight are that pressures were found to be near
atmospheric, significant hydrogen gas fractions were observed (up to about 50%
in one can), oxygen pressures were strongly depressed (or undetectable) and
small partial pressures of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide sometimes were
Pressures have been monitored over as-received and calcined plutonium-bearing
oxides in eleven shelf-life capsules held at room temperature and monitored for
two to four years [Mason et al. 1999 and Veirs, et al 2002]. ]. In addition, one
hundred and six 3013 containers holding metal and seven containers holding
plutonium oxide material [Spearing/Crooks 2003] have been monitored for
almost 7 years. Twenty-two of the containers holding metals and all of the oxide
containers were constructed with a bellows system in the container to measure
pressure changes. Pressure monitoring (x-ray radiographs of the bellows) of 12
of the containers holding metal and all of the containers holding oxides are under
continued surveillance. Minimal pressures were generated in the shelf-life
capsules with elevated hydrogen and depressed oxygen partial pressures
typically found. Shelf-life studies continue at Los Alamos National Laboratory and
preliminary results in a large-scale container filled with pure plutonium oxide
continue to demonstrate minimal gas generation [Berg, et al. 2002]. Small-scale
containers filled with impure oxides demonstrate higher gas releases confirming
the need to keep moisture in the package below 0.5-wt.% and the material as
dry as possible [reference not available yet]. Additional information comes from
practical experience in the United States and United Kingdom weapons
complexes over the past five decades. A survey of plutonium storage failures has
failed to identify a single instance of gas-induced failure where plutonium oxide
materials have been calcined and packaged in a manner similar to that described

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