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Action Alert - Oppose Radioactive Waste Recycling

by mary Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2001 at 9:40 AM

Get informed, Contact DOE or Attend DOE hearing Tue, October 8 in Simi Valley. Say no to radioactive merchandise! Demand proper, monitored disposal, not unmonitored recycling of radioactive waste.

Over 30 people attended a DOE public hearing in Santa Monica on October 8th. The public unanimously opposed recycling or releasing of radioactive waste. Basically, the DOE and waste generators do not want to pay for proper storage or disposal of radioactive waste. The DOE is considering a proposal to allow waste generators to sell their radioactive metal to scrap dealers. The recycled metal could be processed into consumer goods (such as utensils, appliances, zippers, etc), building materials, etc. Once recycled, the radioactive material would not be labeled or monitored, the waste generators would not be accountable for the health risks, and the public would face unavoidable exposure to low level radiation. If the public were informed, they would likely not give permission to to the DOE to permit generatore to recycle radioactive waste.

the following was excerpted from Public Citizen website


Say "No Way!" to the Recycling of Radioactive Materials

Department of Energy Extends Comment Period to November 9, 2001

Send In Your Comments and Go To the Public Hearing

October 9, 2001, 8-10PM:

Simi Valley City Hall

2929 Tapo Canyon Road,

Simi Valley, California 93063

UPDATE: Due to pressure from consumer and environmental groups, the Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the extension of the public scoping comment period for their Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on the Disposition of Radioactively-Contaminated Scrap Metals, during which they will accept comments for consideration. Comments will now be accepted until November 9, 2001.

Right now, the Department of Energy (DOE) is developing a plan - under heavy pressure from the nuclear industry - to unload vast quantities of their radioactive scrap metal into municipal landfills and to "recycle" it into everyday household products and industrial materials.

It is well established that radiation is a health hazard, and that radiation exposures should be avoided and minimized. This DOE program would allow radioactive metals to be recycled without any restrictions, which would mean that any metal products that you come into contact with could contain radiation. In essence, this would make all of us the guinea pigs in an experiment to determine the long-term health effects of repeated and unavoidable exposures to radiation. Since the radioactive metal would not be labeled, monitored or tracked ("unrestricted release"), it is highly unlikely that we would ever really know the results of this tragic, unnecessary experiment.

We need to let the DOE know that the public won't stand for the release of radioactive materials into everyday commerce and the general environment. Instead of spending their time and taxpayer money on finding a new contractor to perform the PEIS, they should commit those resources to finding better containment methods for ALL radioactive wastes, and stop production of further nuclear waste.

Public Citizen's comments on the scoping for the PEIS can be found at:


Write to the DOE, and say "No Thanks!" to Radioactive Metals Recycling!

Comments must be received November 9, 2001.

Send your letter to:

Kenneth G. Picha, Jr.

Office of Technical Program Integration, EM-22

Attn: Metals Disposition PEIS

Office of Environmental Management

U.S. Department of Energy

1000 Independence Ave., SW

Washington, DC 20585-0113

Or via fax to Metals Disposition PEIS at: 301-903-9770

: Or via e-mail to

Radioactive Material Recycling FAQ

Why Should I Care About Radioactive Metal?

The nuclear power and weapons industries, the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) want to dispose of large amounts of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants and weapons facilities by recycling it into household products. Rather than isolating radioactive waste, the generators hope to save or make money by selling it into commerce. If they are successful, radioactivity will end up in an unlimited number of consumer products and building materials without the knowledge or consent of the public.

Any exposure to this material, which includes everything from metal to concrete to plastic, could increase the likelihood of cancer, birth defects, reduced immunity, genetic damage, and other negative health effects. If large amounts of this material are sold into the marketplace, your child could be multiply exposed to various radioactive products- from braces to baby strollers. Exposures to radiation should be avoided and reduced, not legally increased.

Are Consumer Products Radioactive Now? What Materials Are Being Released?

Metal is the first radioactive material that the nuclear industry and their allies in the federal agencies are trying to force into commerce. Radioactive metal is already being sold by the DOE on a case-by-case basis to scrap metal dealers and it could become part of your fork, knife, or frying pan. The chairman of the Association of Radioactive Metal Recyclers (ARMR), in Knoxville Tennessee has been quoted saying that approximately 15,000 tons of metal were received by the industry in 1996, and of this amount, half of it was recycled into the marketplace.

Where Does Radioactive Metal Come From?

Radioactive metal comes from a variety of sources. The largest generators include the nuclear power industry and the DOE's weapons production facilities. The most common radioactively contaminated metals are carbon steel, stainless steel, nickel, copper and aluminum.

How Much Is Out There?

According to the Department of Energy National Center of Excellence for Metals Recycle website, the DOE facilities have 1.4 million tons of metal they plan to recycle. A spokesperson for the DOE Center says that they estimate that 2 million tons of metal could be recycled from DOE facilities, Department of Defense (DOD) facilities, and nuclear power plants. This number has probably been greatly underestimated, considering there are over 130 licensed or formerly licensed commercial nuclear power plants, each comprised of massive amounts of radioactive metal and other wastes.

How are the DOE and NRC Promoting the Recycling of "Hot" Metals?

The DOE is already quietly releasing radioactive material on a case-by-case basis from many of its nuclear weapons complexes across the country. DOE has entered a precedent-setting contract at Oak Ridge, Tennessee that could release over 100,000 tons of radioactively contaminated nickel, steel scrap and copper. The metal is beginning to go to metal processing facilities then to product manufacturers with no warning labels, notification or consent from the potentially exposed workers or consumers. Any items made from these metals could be contaminated. This action violates the National Environmental Policy Act and common sense. To learn more about what DOE plans, visit their website at This website includes "Success Stories" about the large amount of money they are saving by recycling radioactive materials.

The radioactive metal from Oak Ridge is going into commerce with the consent of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). This state agency has an agreement with the NRC (making Tennessee what is known as an "agreement state") to license and regulate metal companies that process and release radioactive metal into the marketplace. This year, TDEC approved the precedent-setting license that will allow volumetrically contaminated (radioactive inside and throughout) metal to be released into commerce for unlimited use around the US and the world.

The ARMR, formed several years ago to promote recycling of radioactive materials, is receiving help from the federal government to create a market for these products. The group represents 30 or more companies that are hoping to make a profit by taking radioactive waste and materials from weapons a and power facilities, processing them and selling them into commerce.

Meanwhile, the NRC is getting ready to set standards that will legalize recycling of contaminated materials into the marketplace. This means that instead of materials being released on a case-by-case basis, large scale release of metal and eventually other materials like concrete could begin. A rulemaking process is underway to "allow quantities of materials to be released" from nuclear power plants and other facilities licensed by the NRC.

The NRC also has a technical analysis out for public comment on assumptions and estimates of radiation doses from recycling radioactive copper, aluminum, steel and concrete. This analysis and the comment period is part of the process to legalize and legitimize the recycling of radioactive materials. At the same time, the NRC is approving the importation of radioactive metal from foreign nuclear reactors for recycling in the US market place.

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