World leaders are meeting in Seoul this week to discuss nuclear security concerns, including the growing threat of radioactive material in the global scrap metal supply chain.
According to a recent article at Bloomberg Businessweek, industries around the world are confronting the impact of loose nuclear (i.e., radioactive) material in an international scrap-metal market worth at least $140 billion. From the article:
Radioactive items used to power medical, military and industrial hardware are melted down and used in goods, driving up company costs as they withdraw tainted products and threatening the public’s health . . . Abandoned medical scanners, food-processing devices and mining equipment containing radioactive metals such as cesium-137 and cobalt-60 are picked up by scrap collectors, sold to recyclers and melted down by foundries, the IAEA (United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency) says.
The problem made headlines earlier this year when retailer Bed Bath & Beyond had to recall a metal tissue holder from its shelves after the item was found to be slightly radioactive. A Bed Bath & Beyond truck loaded with the tissue holders reportedly set off a surveillance monitor in California. (more…)