July 13, 2001
DOE to investigate fate of scrap metals
by Paul Parson
Oak Ridger staff

The Department of Energy is preparing to conduct an investigation to determine the fate of potentially contaminated scrap metals that were banned from release last year by former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson.

The primary metals to be considered in the environmental impact statement are carbon steel and stainless steel in addition to copper, aluminum, lead and precious metals (silver, gold, platinum), which exist in smaller quantities.

These metals may have residual surface radioactivity as a consequence of past operations or activities.

According to DOE, its analysis will examine four alternatives for disposing of the metals, which are:

* Continuation of the suspension on unrestricted release of scrap metals from DOE radiological areas for recycling.

* Unrestricted release of scrap metals for recycling under existing DOE requirements.

* Unrestricted release of scrap metals for recycling under alternative requirements.

* No unrestricted release for recycling of scrap metals with any potential for residual surface radioactivity.

When he announced the recycling suspensions last year, Richardson said they would remain in effect until DOE sites could confirm that recycled metal would contain "no detectable contamination from departmental activities." The suspensions met with both positive and negative reaction from various groups.

DOE plans to conduct a series of public meetings to assist in defining the scope of the environmental impact statement. According to a notice in the Federal Register, meetings will be held in Oak Ridge from 2 to 5 p.m. and from 8 to 11 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 2, at the American Museum of Science and Energy.