An ounce of prevention is worth literally tons of cure

Jan 01, 2009 | 11:26 AM |

It's not through luck that a domestic steel mill hasn't melted a radioactive source of scrap in more than two years. Steelmakers and scrapyards have taken steps to make sure that something "hot" doesn't become part of the hot metal.

And they continue to forge ahead with new monitoring and training programs aimed at making sure that what the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and state regulators euphemistically call "events" do not reoccur.

Virtually every steel mill in the United States has installed what are called radiation detection portals at the gates that each truck must pass through, or at the mills' railroad siding where scrap is unloaded from gondola cars. Most of the largest scrapyards also are equipped with similar portals and other detection systems.

Brian Winters, OmniSource Corp.'s corporate environmental manager, said the big Fort Wayne, Ind.-based scrap processor, now part of Steel Dynamics Inc., employs the best radiation detection technology that the company could find after an exhaustive year-long search. The goal was to be sure that any trucks coming into its yards or leaving them were clean, he said.....

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