Is There Radioactive Silverware In Your Future?

People in the government are now telling us we’ll be perfectly safe taking our meals using radioactive silverware.

You think I’m joking, right? Wish that I were, but I’m not. The folks who think we have no right to choose whether our food’s been genetically modified, are now trying to sneak a move behind our back that will end up unleashing tons of radioactive metal into the scrap market. Over the years the government has accumulated thousands of tons of the stuff that was used in various types of nuclear tests and even in warfare. Now the Department of Energy (DOE) would like to lift legal restrictions on the recycling of nuclear contaminated scrap, so the stuff can be melted down into consumer goods.

Will a radioactive spoon heat our soup for us? Or will a glowing radioactive zipper mean fewer awkward moments getting undressed in the dark after things get hot an heavy?


This isn’t the first time the DOE has tried this trick. According to an article published in 1998 in The Progressive, the DOE and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) “temporarily” lifted the ban on recycling radioactive waste in the 1990s and dumped an estimated 7,500 tons on the public in 1996. At that time, the government agencies were attempting to have the ban permanately lifted, and were suggesting that the radioactive scrap could be safely used to make everything from the already mentioned silverware to pots, pans and eyeglasses.

Evidently that operation was shut down around 2000 when the ban was reinstated. However, recently the DOE has been working again to get rid of any roadblocks that would get in the way of disposal of the metals on the open scrap market, according to Natural News:

“‘A Department of Energy proposal to allow up to 14,000 metric tons of its radioactive scrap metal to be recycled into consumer products was called into question today by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) due to concerns over public health,’ wrote Rep. Markey in a recent news brief about the issue. ‘In a letter sent to DOE head Steven Chu, Rep. Markey expressed “grave concerns” over the potential of these metals becoming jewelry, cutlery, or other consumer products that could exceed healthy doses of radiation without any knowledge by the consumer.’”

It was Rep. Markey who was responsible back in 2000 for having the original ban reinstated. He seems to be a good guy who deserves our support.

If all of this isn’t scary enough, it appears that the problem of radioactive scrap metal making it into our homes is already a problem, as Bloomberg reported in an article last March:

“The discovery of radioactive tissue boxes at Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. (BBBY) stores in January raised alarms among nuclear security officials and company executives over the growing global threat of contaminated scrap metal.

“While the U.S. home-furnishing retailer recalled the boutique boxes from 200 stores nationwide without any reports of injury, the incident highlighted one of the topics drawing world leaders to a nuclear security meeting in Seoul on March 26-27. The bi-annual summit, convened by President Barack Obama for the first time in 2010, seeks to stem the flow of atomic material that has been lost, stolen or discarded as trash.”

As it turns out, this was no isolated incident. Indeed, it appears that people who work in the scrap metal business have to constantly be on the lookout for radioactive scrap getting into the mix, some of it weapons grade material:

“‘The major risk we face in our industry is radiation,’ said Paul de Bruin, radiation-safety chief for Jewometaal Stainless Processing BV, one of the world’s biggest stainless- steel scrap yards. ‘You can talk about security all you want, but I’ve found weapons-grade uranium in scrap. Where was the security?’ …

“Rotterdam-based Jewometaal, which found 145 nuclear items in scrap last year and 200 in 2010, reports incidents to Dutch authorities and the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency. De Bruin keeps pictures of the nuclear-fission chamber containing bomb-grade uranium and other scrap with plutonium that he’s uncovered using radiation monitors at his shipping yard.”

Right now, Steven Chu, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, plans to dump 14,000 tons of radioactive scrap metal on the market to be used for manufacturing consumer products. This is only a fraction of the amount of radioactive scrap they currently have on hand and there are plans to release more of this material in the future.

They’re fast tracking the operation in an attempt to not give time for any opposition to get organized. According to Maureen Headington who is spearheading a petition drive at SignOn.org, the deadline for stopping them was today. However, at the time of this writing, signatures to stop the DOE are still being collected at http://signon.org/sign/will-the-zipper-on-your?source=mo&id=62348-17973181-yhra_kx .

You are urged to sign this petition, if it is still available. I would also suggest that you contact your congressperson or senator. Voice your opposition to this. Let it be known that a Geiger counter should not have to be part of smart shopping.

Christine Hall

Christine Hall began her journalism career in 1972 writing for the "underground" newspaper the Los Angeles Free Press. From 1988 until 2005 she covered politics for various newspapers in the Greensboro, North Carolina area.

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