Environmental agencies in two states have determined that scrap contaminated with low levels of radiation was shredded at a PSC Metals facility in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. Some of the scrap was later shipped to Ohio and triggered readings from radiation monitors at three facilities there.
Recycling Today reported on March 2:
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has issued several news releases pertaining to the incidents, with the most recent one issued Feb. 27, 2016. The agency indicates the radioactive scrap was detected at PSC Metals yards in Canton and Massillon, Ohio, and at a Tube City (TMS International) facility in Mansfield, Ohio.
According to the ODH, the department had radiation protection staff on-site at all three facilities in late February to conduct radiation testing and to ensure planning for the safe disposal of the contaminated scrap metal.
The contaminated scrap metal has been contained securely and does not pose a health risk to facilities’ employees or the general public, says Gene Phillips of the ODH Bureau of Environmental Health and Radiation Protection.
Phillips singles out the role of radiation monitors in detecting the contamination. “As a precaution, many scrap metal processing facilities have radiation alarms to monitor and detect radiation in incoming shipments for the safety of their employees and the general public,” he comments.
The source of the radiation is under investigation.
Phillips says, “Radiation can occur in scrap metal for a variety of reasons, including because the owner who sends it for recycling does not realize that the [obsolete] equipment contains small radioactive sources.”
Radiation surveys of contaminated scrap metal delivered to PSC Metals in Massillon showed a highest reading of 25 millirem per hour, equivalent to the radiation dose from two-and-a-half chest X-rays within one hour, ODH says.