Problems with Radioactive Sources in Recycled Metals 2000-01-0667
Since 1983, there have been at least 65 confirmed, reported events where radioactive materials were inadvertently mixed with metals for recycling, and in many of these instances, radioactively contaminated metal resulted. The problem is worldwide, with the iron/steel industry and the aluminum industry being the most seriously affected, but other industries have also suffered. Despite the widespread use of radiation detectors (“portal monitors”) by recycling industries, radioactive sources do slip through, and can cause severe economic impacts if a source is breached or melted. In North America, over 350 radioactive sources have been caught before a melting occurred, but there have been 32 meltings in the United States and Canada alone. The problem has caught the attention not only of the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors, Inc. (CRCPD), but also of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the US Environmental Protection Agency and other members of the federal family. Efforts are underway to prevent orphan radioactive sources from being recycled inadvertently or illegally, which will be detailed at this conference. CRCPD has established assistance for dealing with the problem of radioactive scrap and with the disposition of unwanted radioactive material.