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The growing problem of recycled metals from the nuclear energy industry contaminating our homes.

 
Posts: 600
Location: Michigan
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Here is an interesting article i found a while back while posting in permies about the world saving joys of the greatest form of electric power ever devised by people way more enlightened amd intelligent than myself!

This an issue, and its worth an ulcer or two to talk about and trade articles on. I have no idea who thinks all this is great, but you can tell us all about it and reform my anti-nuclear ways.

If youncan convince me this is just fine and i am wrong to be totally appalled by the antics of new clear......

Ill post a video of me smashing a solarworld 250 mono to bits and the hazmat cleanup that follows !!! ;)

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/the-growing-global-threat-of-radioactive-scrap-metal/
 
frank li
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To recycle, of course. Glass, tedlar film, eva film, polyethylene, hyper pure copper and silver and aluminum. Not sure what to do with the silicon wafers, luckily there is about 2oz (need to check this to avoid inflated or deflated figures) of this material and as long as the panel was in the sun for a year and a half, no major loss of embodied energy even after recycling. I allow 6 months in the sun for that as 1 year will recover the energy embodied in the module.
 
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Location: Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
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We had a steel pipe manufacturing plant not far from us, on a drive-by more than a decade ago I noticed a new widget installed on their truck delivery driveway – two BIG green and red lights with a sign indicating radiation detector.

It got me thinking of corrupt and incompetent officials here and overseas who dispose of irradiated materials illegally – well, is/was it illegal? Which countries have legislation and the policing frameworks to control and enforce these things?

The global movement of recyclable materials is akin to an ‘underground economy’ – few controls, less responsibility, zero ability to track back to source. (There’s current issues of First World countries dumping their waste plastics on other countries e.g. recent news concerning China rejecting others plastic wastes.)

Since that time, it has been a significant concern of mine – do those cheap Indian/Taiwan/Chinese candle-holders glow in the dark without candles?!

Worryingly, the pipe manufacturing plant made domestic bulk-water pipes! So, between the period of the 1950’s to midway through the 1990’s who knows what went into those pipes – it coincided with the peak period of atomic/nuclear testing and experimental reactor research.

So, when proponents of nuclear energy start sprouting about zero emissions, which by the way is a huge fallacy, they tend to dismiss the consequences of decommissioning nuclear plants, ships, submarines, etc and the repercussions of contaminated materials leaking into mainstream resource recovery.

The economics of the nuclear sector is cut-throat, so making money from radioactive scrap rather than expensive disposal is a no-brainer to unethical people – sell it to a country with an ‘emerging economy’ and let them have it, not thinking it will rebound in the form of cheap simple things like tissue box holders, scissors, saucepans, spectacle frames, children’s toys, etc.

It has got to the point where every household should have a Geiger/Scintillation Counter just to keep things safe and, as one of our past Politicians stated: ‘To keep the Bastards honest’.

 
frank li
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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4962241/

Nuclear technologies, both from military and commercial applications, pose a complex of environmental justice issues in terms of current and future risks they pose to people and environments. These risks, as both nuclear testing and nuclear reactor accidents have shown, transcend national boundaries, can span millennia, and can have multigenerational health risks. To explore nuclear risks and environmental justice, we focus on issues only in the continental U.S. However, we recognize that the risks are expanding at a global level with accumulations of high-level nuclear waste, mining and milling waste, and unresolved serious nuclear contamination problems at military sites in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia (see [1]).
 
pollinator
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Canada still mines asbestos, for use in brake pads and in construction materials to be sold overseas. We can't use them domestically, or at least that was my impression. All this is fine, I guess, unless you deal with brakes all day, or until the sealed-up construction materials are broken up in a few decades and the asbestos freed from its confinement.

I like what the French do with their contaminated materials. There's a post by C. Letellier in this thread near the end of the fourth page that details how the contaminated materials are treated. It's the way I think these things should be handled, and it definitely shows that decontamination can actually be achieved, it just takes nuclear processes to do so.

Interesting fact: if you have vintage to antique-aged dinner ware in bright or concentrated pigments, especially orange and brown, they may be radioactive.

So before I do a dumpster-dive on Amazon, what non-geiger/scintillation counter options exist for passive detection? I mean, could one take unexposed photopaper and test a suspected object in that way? I mean, the radiation should act on the photoreactive paper as light does, so as long as the reaction occurs in absence of anything but red light, we could be reasonably sure that the source of the marks on the paper would be radiation. Could we use the old lamp-oil on stretched linen to detect it?

I think that if the levels are high enough to be detected by crude implements, then that, by itself, says enough about the severity. I would like to see data on this, and if I can get a good geiger/scintillation counter myself without breaking the bank, I would be interested. But the more complex and sensitive the equipment necessary to detect this stuff, the more I would be inclined to worry about the negative effects of the EM fields of household current, earbuds, bluetooth, WiFi, and cellphone transmissions, rather than the potential for lower levels of radiation to be doing something unspecified to the water in my pipes.

I think it's important to look at the way our houses are built nowadays, as well. Houses are mostly wood, paper, and gypsum. The metal is found in the fasteners, wiring, and some of the plumbing. It will likely stay in the fasteners, and we have no other viable option with the wiring, but most waste plumbing is PVC. The exception to this is usually older plumbing, specifically in a main stack. Apart from that, there's the supply end of things, with lots and lots of copper for those who haven't opted for pex, which I detest.

So what are the concerns here? I admit that I don't want to be eating my oatmeal with a radioactive spoon every morning, but what, exactly, will radioactive copper piping do to my water? Also, what are the chances that those radioactive particles will detach themselves in any meaningful quantity and get into me?

Or another way, how would illicitly gained radioactive metal scrap be recycled? I mean, would it be a single load, all on its own, slagged and cleaned up and then formed into a finished product? Because in that scenario, unless there were radically different melting points for the radioactive elements and the copper, or the radioactive copper, such that it all stayed with the slag, which gets skimmed, then I might not want to work with that copper, or have it in my house.

If, on the other hand, small but significant quantities of radioactive scrap are snuck into much larger batches, what does that mean for the radioactivity that the contaminated material has been melted into a much larger quantity of metal? Would a copper ring of such material have any detectable levels of radiation left?

I think the existence of contaminated materials is actually one of the reasons why we need the modern designs that enable the processing of waste materials, and those that allow for the complete decontamination of radioactive material, as detailed in the abovementioned post.

I hope we get there soon. When we do, we get to safely convert around a half-century of radioactive waste products into a thousand years' worth of energy at today's rates of consumption.

As to the radioactive cheap shit from overseas, there's a joke I like to deal with that.

A man goes into the doctor's office and says, "Doctor, it hurts when I hold my hand up in the air."

The doctor goes, "So don't put your hand up in the air." Ba-dum-chink.

So as long as we're not buying cheap stuff from questionable sources, it's not really an issue.

I mean, unless your wiring glows in the dark, I guess.

-CK
 
master pollinator
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As with most things, it is not what is said, but what is not said that gets kind of crazy.

Like people will get all worked up about scrap metal glowing in the dark, but one of the highest places for radiation is actually stone workers working at a Granite Quarry. So we have every day people who shuffle food that has been sitting on top of their granite countertops, jump in the Prius that has gobs of exotic metals to make it go, and then drive down to the anti-nuclear power plant rally to hold up a recycled card board sign and chant.

I do not have enough information to make an informed decision on what I use and do not use because everything has a marketing slant. The Prius is touted up as being environmentally safe, yet they fail to say how all the exotic steel in it comes from pretty poor mining locations, or that the granite countertops can take a boiling pot of water, but fail to say it is teeming with radiation...you get the point.

Twenty years ago they told Mainer's hydro-power plants kill fish and we needed to rip all ours out, so many of them were. Now they want us to build a massive powerline project from another country because...wait for it...hydro-power is environmentally sound. It is all spin, and I refuse to get caught up in it.
 
pioneer
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These threads always make me think of this:  "Make the world a better place instead of being mad at bad guys."

Unless anyone has a solution to any of this, I'm going to keep planting trees.
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
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That's why I would be interested to know if photoreactive paper could be used as a passive  detector. If it's being lit up by whatever I'm testing, I have something to be concerned about,  and I'm not out hundreds for equipment.

-CK
 
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