Tell the Dept. of Energy AGAIN, Please no Radiated Silverware or Formerly Radiated Baby Toys

Updated 9 years ago Edited by Tony Rutherford from Multiple Reports
Tell the Dept. of Energy AGAIN, Please no Radiated Silverware or Formerly Radiated Baby Toys

The Department of Energy (DOE) is considering a plan to allow radioactively-contaminated metal from nuclear weapons facilities to be “recycled.” This would allow this toxic metal to be mixed with clean recycled metal and enter into normal commerce—where it could be turned into anything from your next pants zipper to baby toys.

According to the Nuclear Information and Resource Service and prior stories posted on HNN, this is not the first time that DOE has "recycled" contaminated materials. Our investigations of the Huntington Pilot Plant, a Cold War uranium and nickel processing facility on the then International Nickel (now Special Metals) venue, produced radioactive materials for the nation's gaseous diffusion plants... Portsmouth, Paducah, and Oak Ridge.

However, during its lifespan which began in 1952 as an Atomic Energy Commission LEASED facility (which later became DOE), the plant recycled used barrier materials which contained weapons grade radioactivity.

According to Vina Colley in prior stories, we contaminated your plant. How? The material sent from Portsmouth for recycling collected radioactive contamination at the HPP.

The HPP closed in 1962. It remained in cold stand-by status until 1978, when the AEC/DOE had it torn down and the remains carted to Piketon, where everything --- bricks, papers, valves,  etc --- were buried under machine gun guard (based on eyewitness accounts) in a classified landfill at Piketon.

The landfill in Piketon leaked materials that contaminated an aquifier there.

The Huntington Pilot Plant has qualified for energy workers compensation. A Department of Labor site stated that about $7 million in benefits have been paid to workers.

Now, the DOE wants to resume attempts to "recycle" radiated materials.

This DOE action is just the foot in the door….if it’s allowed to occur, expect more efforts to deregulate radioactive materials from both DOE and NRC.

The Nuclear Information & Resource Service stated in full:

"We’ve fought this battle before. In the late 1980s, NRC adopted a policy it called 'Below Regulatory Concern (BRC),' that would allowed about 30% of the nation’s 'low-level' radioactive waste to be treated as normal garbage and dumped in landfills, be burned in incinerators, and yes, be recycled into consumer products. According to the NRC’s own calculations, its BRC policy posed a 1 in 286 risk of fatal cancer over a person’s lifetime.

NIRS and our allies responded with one of our largest organizing campaigns ever. Grassroots activists succeeded in getting hundreds of towns, cities and counties to adopt anti-BRC resolutions. The texts of those resolutions were sent up the chain to Governors, state legislators and Congressmembers. They responded: 15 states passed laws banning BRC within their borders. Hearings were held in the House and in 1992, Congress officially overturned the BRC policy.

But both NRC and DOE have been trying to implement the concept piecemeal ever since. In the late 1990s, DOE proposed a similar program to deregulate radioactively contaminated metal. Instead, DOE was forced to suspend the idea indefinitely—a suspension that stands today and that DOE is now trying to lift. Even DOE admits this program was defeated due to “public concern.”

Nothing has changed since 2000 that would justify lifting its current ban. Rather, just the opposite: since then the National Academy of Sciences has acknowledged that there is no safe level of radiation exposure, and we’ve learned that women are even more vulnerable to radiation than men (while children have long been known to be more vulnerable than adults). The DOE’s proposal flies in the face of what our society values most: protecting our children. It must be stopped before it starts.

The NIRS has posted this link to the Federal Register for anyone who wants to comment on the proposal. The DOE will take comments through Feb 9, 2013:

'Tell DOE to withdraw its proposal. At the same time, point out that DOE cannot take shortcuts; implementing this proposal would require preparation of a full Environmental Impact Statement—something DOE is trying to avoid," the NIRS stated.

For those who would like still more information, see below for links to the DOE’s Federal Register notice and other info sources, plus some more technical issues related to the proposal.

Tell the DOE that the American people do not want radioactive metal in the marketplace. Comment deadline is February 9, 2013.

A portion of the contents of this story comes from the NIRS.