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Department of Energy Issues New Rule: Don't Put Highly Enriched Uranium in Your Pocket

(Image: Fox)

Now they tell us!

The US Department of Energy, which oversees how nuclear materials are handled in the United States, found that, on occasion, nuclear materials workers had placed highly enriched uranium in their pockets. A report on the subject informs people who work with these hazardous substances to cease pocketing them:

Further, after interviewing chemical operators and reviewing revised Y-12 procedures, we confirmed that chemical operators are no longer allowed to place samples in their pockets and must check their pockets before removing their coveralls.

The risk was, thankfully, very low. CNS News summarizes:

According to a Y-12 Subject Matter Expert (SME), the possibility of “a nuclear criticality accident occurring during the incident was very low,” because the “minimum critical mass” for such an incident is over 700 grams, while the samples in question only contained 20 grams of uranium. Also, personnel wore proper protective equipment.

-via VA Viper


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I didn't say it was just legal, as in theoretically possible to bring to a school, but that it is actually, currently in use at schools. As in it is part of the science curriculum, and part of regular kits you can buy from science education suppliers. I've know students who've had to buy such things themselves too for science fair experiments when the schools were too cheap to have them on hand. People have been arrested for stupider things, but there is a difference between items where numerous people have been arrested and zero-tolerance policies are common vs. something that is still part of a curriculum in many places.
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You can still buy and own uranium ore and other exempt quantities of radioactive sources, which hasn't changed much in decades. They are still used in schools of various levels to show how a Geiger counter works.
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I once took a hunk of uranium ore to school (not enriched). My dad, the geology professor, thought my chemistry class would find it interesting, so he loaned me a piece and a Geiger counter. Today, I would be immediately arrested for such shenanigans.
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