Scrap metal recycling is an increasingly international industry. Worldwide, recycled scrap metal is one of the most broadly traded commodities, representing a multibillion-dollar industry. International metal processing industries are very concerned about the importation of scrap metal contaminated by radioactivity:
- Through 2001, scrap yards and steel mills in North America alone experienced an estimated 10,000 plus detections of radioactive sources in recycled scrap metal1.
- Worldwide, more than 40 deaths and 266 serious injuries have been attributed to uncontrolled radioactive source incidents, some of them to contaminated scrap metal1.
- Cleanup costs for environmental and facility contamination from radioactive scrap metal average $12–15 million per incident1.
- Finished or intermediate products manufactured from radioactive scrap in foreign facilities have been shipped worldwide.
Radiation monitoring by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the metal processing industries is responsible for increased identification of these contaminated materials. EPA is working on several approaches to prevent entry of contaminated scrap metal into the United States, including use of grapple-mounted radiation detectors.
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe references on radioactive scrap metal.
Radioactive scrap metal - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
EPA web page Contaminated Scrap Metal