Radioactive Metals In Commercial Goods

According to Nuclear Information and Resource Services the US Department of Energy (DOE) is poised to lift its bans which have stopped radioactive metals being used in commercial metals.

In 1999, a committee of nuclear advocates convened under the auspices of the Health Physics Society and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to select “allowable” contamination levels for materials radioactive throughout (volumetrically radioactive). However, a review by the National Academy of Sciences found that the work done to develop the ANSI standard was not traceable and could not be relied upon. Despite this the DOE is using these levels in the Environmental Assessment EA-1919 suggesting allowable release levels for radioactive metal from DOE sites.

In the US, State of Tennessee is allowing private companies that it licenses to process and deregulate nuclear waste where reportedly even German nuclear waste is being sent to be incinerated by one of the processors, EnergySolutions.

Furthermore, a proposal from the US Department of Energy to mix radioactive metal from nuclear weapons factories with clean scrap has led the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA) to start building and testing a radioactive metal smelter at Pelindaba - 'the birthplace of South Africa's atomic bombs.'

By smelting radioactive metal scrap NECSA will be absolved from responsibility, liability and costs of storing its radioactive material. Three proposed radioactive metal smelters are due to be licensed at the Pelindaba plant this year and NECSA has already built and started testing a radioactive metal smelter for this purpose.

Both of these countries are moving to allow radioactive scrap metal waste out into unregulated commerce, to rake in profits considering it as a “resource” rather than material that should remain under radioactive controls. Hundred thousands tonnes of scrap originating from decommissioning of nuclear reactors, weapons and submarines will be entering the public domain in an uncontrolled manner and even “low-level” nuclear waste can contain lethally radioactive and long-lived elements, such as Plutonium-239, Strontium-90 and many others.