TELL THE DEPT OF ENERGY: “Recycling” with radioactive materials is NOT acceptable!
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. Act below to stop this outrage! Deadline is February 11, 2013. If you are reading this after the deadline, it is still worth knowing about, because it indicates the callous disregard of the nuclear industry around your children’s and your health.
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.
We’ve fought this battle before. In the late 1980s, NRC adopted a policy it called “Below Regulatory Concern (BRC),” that would have 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.
Act now: 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.
Notes: Please use the icons above to share this action page before you submit your comments. To ensure your comments are properly received by DOE, the subject line cannot be changed; however you are free to edit the sample comments. Everyone can participate in this action. Our international friends may want to point out the terrible precedent this would set for other countries.
Sign your letter here;
Copy of letter sent; On behalf of the members of A Green Road, please continue to keep radioactive metal from nuclear bomb factories and weapons laboratories out of the commercial metal supply, commerce, and our personal items!
The current Department of Energy bans (suspension and moratorium begun in 2000) should be made permanent and expanded to keep all radioactive waste–-plastic, concrete, soil, asphalt, etc. in addition to all metals-–under control and out of commercial recycling. Do not lift the metal bans.
We do not authorize DOE to use so-called “authorized” contamination levels to allow nearly 14,000 metric tons (to start with) of radioactive metal from nuclear bomb factories and laboratories out of control and into items with which we come into daily contact. We also oppose sending man-made radioactive waste at any level to solid and/or industrial landfills not intended for radioactive waste.
Such an irresponsible, irreversible plan would require a full Environmental Impact Statement and public hearings, especially given the precedent this would set. DOE cannot claim a “finding of no significant impact” from this action because there is not even an estimate of the total amount of radioactivity that would be released.
There has been no assessment of the impact on women, who are more likely than men to get cancer from radiation exposure, or on children even more so. There has not been a full economic analysis of how much government money, if any, would be saved and how much would be spent on the consequent health costs incurred by putting the public at this unnecessary, preventable risk. The Presidential orders encouraging recycling do not support radioactive recycling. This action would actually hinder the intent of the Presidential orders by tainting or poisoning the recycling supply, potentially increasing the demand for new metal mining.
Since there is no safe level of radiation, our government should prevent unnecessary, involuntary exposures to this and future generations. Lifting the ban would allow release of all kinds of radioactivity including very long-lasting isotopes like plutonium-239 (hazardous for a quarter to half million years) and niobium-94 (200 to 400 thousand years hazardous) and very intense ones like cobalt-60 and polonium-210.
We get enough exposure from big accidents like Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, and less publicized accidents and routine releases from every nuclear fuel chain facility from mining to waste management and from other sources. We do not need deliberate, additional dispersal of radioactive metal or other materials into the metal supply and marketplace.
Doses in millirems, which DOE claims establish the regulatory exposure limit, can’t be measured because they are calculations. To avoid unnecessary, involuntary exposure of this and future generations, prevent radioactive pollution of the metal supply.
Again, a full EIS would be required before DOE could begin such a program. But this heinous concept should simply be dropped, the suspension made permanent and efforts shifted to isolating and preventing radioactive releases and exposures.
Department of Energy (DOE) Wants To “Recycle” Radioactively-Contaminated Metal Into Consumer Products; via A Green Road