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Recycling of Radioactive Waste into Household Products Unacceptable

June 10, 1999

Recycling of Radioactive Waste into Household Products Unacceptable

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Recycling radioactive metal into household products is an unacceptable solution to the nuclear industry’s nuclear waste problem, Public Citizen told the Interagency Scientific Committee on Radiation (ISCORS) Thursday.

“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Department of Energy (DOE) have been scheming since the 1970s on how to recycle radioactive materials from nuclear power plants and nuclear weapon facilities,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy Project. “This is an outrageous attempt to make the nuclear industry more cost-effective.”

Several times in the past 25 years, the NRC and DOE have attempted to “deregulate” nuclear waste. Citizens from around the country were outraged and they passed local and state ordinances requiring regulatory control of these dangerous wastes. Finally in 1992, Congress told the NRC that it could not make radioactive scrap materials “below regulatory concern.”

Recently, the NRC has started a new rulemaking process involving various federal agencies setting a standard for radioactive material recycling. The purpose of? ISCORS is to facilitate the development of a so-called safe standard for radiation exposure from consumer products, household garbage dumps, manufacturing practices, incinerators and sewers.

“The NRC is stacking the deck in this rulemaking process,” Hauter said. “They want us to participate, but they are starting with the premise that there is a safe standard of radiation exposure from this recycled nuclear waste. We refuse to be part of a process that is designed to co-opt us.”