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Scrap metal plan draws fire

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By Associated Press

SANTA FE (AP) — The federal government is drawing opposition from the steel industry and others for its proposal to commercially recycle scrap metal from Los Alamos National Laboratory and other nuclear sites.
The Department of Energy recommends that scrap metal exposed on its surface to radiation be recycled if the metal is uncontaminated or if radiation levels are low enough. The department released a draft environmental assessment in December.
According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the proposal includes about 350 metric tons of scrap metal at Los Alamos.
The scrap would include metal from file cabinets, tools, equipment and structural steel from demolished buildings. It would be mixed with other scrap metal and melted down for use in new products.
The head of a steel producers group said the proposal could risk contamination of food cans, building beams and car parts.
“Scrap metal that is potentially contaminated by radiation should not be released into the general stream of commerce. Period,” Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute, said in a Jan. 30 statement.
A public comment period on the draft assessment ends Monday.
In 2000, Bill Richardson, who was U.S. energy secretary at the time, decided against allowing sales of contaminated scrap metal.