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Recycled Radioactive Metal In Your Frying Pan?

By James Donahue

A government report released earlier this year reveals that radioactive materials are being released from nuclear weapons facilities to regular landfills and they could also be getting into the commercial recycling streams.

That means that unscrupulous manufacturers could be getting this deadly material, at very low cost, and using it to make a wide variety of household products ranging from frying pans to baby carriages.

Is there proof this is happening? We are as yet unaware of it, but we believe that if the potential exists, someone is probably doing it. Anything for a profit.

The report by Nuclear Information and Resource Service, examined seven sites: Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Rocky Flats, Colorado; Los Alamos, New Mexico; Mound and Fernald, Ohio; West Valley, New York, and Paducah, Kentucky

"People around regular trash landfills will be shocked to learn that radioactive contamination from nuclear weapons production is ending up their, either directly released by the Department of Energy, or via brokers and processors," said Diane D' Arrigo, the agencies' Project Director.

"Just as ominous, the DOE allows and encourages sale and donation of some radioactivelyy contaminated materials.," she wrote.

Mary Olson, co-author of the report, said DOE "is ignoring public opposition to unnecessary exposures and releasing radioactivity even though the U.S. Congress revoked such release policies." She said the department is using its own internal guidance "to allow radioactive weapons wastes out of control, claiming the doses to people will be acceptable, even though they are not enforced or tracked."

The disposal of low and high-level radioactive materials has been a growing problem in the United States ever since the first atomic bomb was developed and subsequent construction of nuclear power plants and nuclear powered naval vessels began. A 2002 report by Mother Jones magazine noted that the Department of Energy even then had 1.6 million tons of slightly radioactive materials at weapons installations throughout the US, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission expected to have 8.9 million tons of contaminated steel and concrete to dispose of by 2030.

Faced with a cleanup of that magnitude, the DOE has been working to "recycle" the metal and sell it for industrial reuse. Thus the rules have been quietly being revised to allow all of that radioactive trash to be converted into consumer products and building materials.

Mother Jones said there was nothing too prevent this scrap metal from being used to make baby strolers, bikes, kitchen cookware, engine blocks and I-beams in building construction.

There has been an ongoing battle between federal agencies and public watchdog groups since the mid-1970s. After activists began getting local and state governments to pass ordinances requiring regulatory control of radioactive waste, Congress took action in 1992. The rules, however, appear to be meaningless to government military agencies that appear capable of operating out of public control during a time of manufactured war..

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