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Re[2]: Plutonium movement characteristics

The "flightiness" of plutonium is a piece of folklore I first heard 
shortly after arriving at Hanford 20 years ago.  It appears to be a real 
physical phenomenon, associated with statistical fluctuations in alpha-
recoil energy deposited along grain boundaries of alpha-decaying 
materials.  These events cause small (around 1 million atoms) pieces of 
the material to spall from the surface.  It apparently can cause plutonium 
dioxide in an open container to disperse rather smartly throughout a glove 
box (that was the "folklore").  It would also appear to enhance the 
migration of actinides through filters and protective clothing.

Some relevant citations are:

M.T. Ryan and W.J. McDowell, Observations of the Distribution and Nature 
of Alpha-active Particulate Material in a HEPA Filter Used for Plutonium-
Containing Dust, ORNL TM-5765, Feb. 1977. 

M.T. Ryan et al., Retention and Penetration Characteristics of a Glass 
Fiber Filter for Pb-212 Aggregate Recoil Particles," Health Physics, v. 
29, pp. 796-98 (1975).

R.W. Lawson, "The Aggregate Recoil of Radioactive Substances Emitting 
alpha-Rays," Nature, v. 102, pp. 464-465 (1919).

Best regards.

Jim Dukelow
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Richland, WA

These comments are mine and have not been reviewed and/or approved by my 
management or by the U.S. Department of Energy.