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December 2004

LANL "Holdup" Specialists Hit Kazakhstan Site

Four Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) scientists spent two weeks recently working at the uranium fuel fabrication facility of the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Ust- Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan.

Ulba was once, and may soon be again, the largest uranium fuel fabrication plant in the world. The principal goals of the trip were to measure uranium deposits, known as holdup, in plant equipment and to train facility staff to perform these measurements using equipment recently provided by NNSA’s Global Nuclear Security Program.

The scientists, Anthony Belian, Douglas Reilly, Phyllis Russo and Steve Tobin of LANL’s Safeguards, Science and Technology (N-1) group, have unparalleled expertise in holdup detection technology. Their efforts to seek to improve nuclear material accountability at Ulba are in accordance with goals of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards program. Abdellah Chahid of the IAEA participated during the first week and also assisted during a similar visit in July.

Working in teams, the Los Alamos personnel performed nearly 1,600 separate measurements, quantifying the uranium in vacuum lines, ventilation systems, filters and feed elevators. They also spent considerable time verifying the accuracy of the holdup measurements, comparing different measurement techniques, and training plant engineers and technicians to use the technique that was developed at Los Alamos which is used throughout the DOE complex. Next steps include writing a final report, in collaboration with Ulba and the IAEA, and developing a proposal to automate the measurements.

Excerpt from December 2004 NNSA Newsletter

improved Plutonium Canister Assay System (iPCAS) March 2004

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