Wednesday, April 24, 2013

DOE Recycling Metal from Nuclear Facilities

Recycling Metal from DOE Facilities                                                           

Department of Energy is proposing to release tons of metal from their nuclear facilities for recycling. One of the facilities hired me as a consultant to review this issue years ago. They have warehouses packed with old metal desks, file cabinets, bookcases. In fact the little town the facility was located in looked like old Mexico with their backyards full of non working refrigerators, old cars etc.

NO ONE WANTS THEIR METAL. The quantity of metal the DOE is looking at releasing would be around 14,000 tons which is actually a small amount in the scheme of things. But do you want any amount of radioactive material in your recycled metal products?

Most of the metal recycling facilities in the US have radiation detectors,but Europe does not have detectors
at all facilities. You also have to look at the idea that the employees in  the recycling facility will continue to handle the metal over and over and may expose themselves to ongoing radiation.

Robert Middaugh,communications coordinator for the department's National Nuclear Security Administration  has stated , "The department will not authorize sites to release metal from areas
contaminated with radioactive material." So, if the whole town is radioactive, where are they getting the metal that is not contaminated?

Now I am concerned about metal that was taken from the Rocky Mountain Flats nuclear weapon plant  when it was closed near Denver,Colorado. What did they do with all that metal? All I could find out is that they torn down the buildings and removed them as part of a Superfund Project. Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge remains controversial, and the talk around town is that the fish glow in the ponds and you don't want to spend much time out there. The real question I have is how much of the local contaminated metal was recycled before the radiation precautions were in place? How many structures are built with metal that was exposed to radiation across the US. How many other places are there that have been torn down over the years before the controls?  We know Cancer and birth defects are a direct result of exposure to radioactive contamination. One has to wonder the affects are on our communities.

Radiation is a serious, complex issue and I join with other groups in opposing releasing this material
for recycling. Even though the material may contain a low but above-background of levels of radiation, this material can enter the stream to the consumer through metal products made from recycled steel. No more radioactive contaminated metal should be introduced. Not one more spec.

Mary Jarrett
Amazing Recycled Products

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