OPINIONS
Story last updated at 1:35 p.m. on Wednesday, September 13, 2000

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Letters to the Editor


Metal recycling issue is profit over safety

To The Oak Ridger:

I would again like to comment on the recycling moratorium issue. The SSAB's letter blasting Secretary Richardson's decision again affirms my prior comments, which state that the issue is, once again, profit over potential spread of contamination to the general public.

As I have stated before, I have no doubts that the technology exists to "clean up" these materials. However, two recent incidents in Japan and Great Britain serve to prove that mistakes happen, and controls can be circumvented.

The statement has been made that "No other industry is held to the stringent controls placed on the Department of Energy waste." I do not see that the "everybody else is doing it" attitude is productive, or protective.

The secretary offered an alternative plan of internal recycling, wherein containment vessels would be constructed for the more highly-contaminated wastes and other products within the DOE complex.

This would save virgin, uncontaminated metals for other uses.

Reference has been made, almost from the outset, that Secretary Richardson's move was politically motivated, yet I have heard no explanation of this accusation. I would think the political (and profiteering) argument could also be made from the other side, as well.

To draw a parallel, as beryllium use within the DOE/DOD complexes in weapons production, it is finding its way into more conventional uses in the public sector. And the newest wave of beryllium victims has already begun, such as in dental appliances, and companies using compounds with very minute amounts of beryllium alloys.

The 1-3 percent beryllium-copper alloys, such as used by Robertshaw, NGK and other manufacturers have already produced disease. Do we want to risk this with yet another potential contaminant, such as the recycled metals?

Glenn Bell
504 Michigan Ave.


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