Since 1983 there have been numerous identified incidents in which radioactive sources have been inadvertently melted in metal making furnaces in the United States and around the world. It is likely these devices were charged into the furnace as part of the scrap charge. The meltings have resulted in multi-million dollar clean-up and disposal costs to those mills. As a result steel mills, aluminum mills and scrap processing yards have installed radiation scrap monitoring systems at their inbound scales, at charge bucket loading stations, on conveyor systems, on cranes handling scrap, on baghouses, and in their metallurgical laboratories. Systems are also installed to monitor product and byproducts. Scrap monitors are one of the most sensitive types of radiation detection systems in existence, while making their measurements with minimal false alarms. However, they require a commitment from management, a good quality assurance program, a good preventive maintenance program, and personnel who are conscientious in operating and responding to alarms.
This photo shows a system we developed to test scrap monitoring systems. A lead shielded source can be raised and lowered in the pipe to permit testing the detectors at multiple heights. Several pipes were installed at varying depths from the wall of the rail car to permit different thicknesses of scrap.
Following the first discoveries of radiation sources being melted in steel making furnaces in 1983 and 1984, Health Physics Associates began working with radiation detection equipment manufacturers and steel mills to develop highly sensitive radiation monitoring systems that could detect lead shielded radioactive sources buried in steel scrap. Health Physics Associates is a national leader in this field and was chosen by the Steel Manufacturers Association to conduct its test of radiation scrap monitoring systems in 1996. This was and remains the most comprehensive test for truck monitoring systems in the world, to date.
Health Physics Associates, is a leader in designing systems; inspecting and determining the detection capability of vehicle, charge bucket, conveyor line, and product/byproduct monitoring systems; and developing response plans and training of response personnel. We can assist you in preventing buried radioactive sources from reaching your furnaces. We have over 30 years experience in vehicle radiation monitoring systems and response, and possess field instrumentation that can locate and identify the source of radioactivity buried in a load of scrap. Mr. LaMastra is a member of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements Scientific Committee that wrote the NCRP Report 141, Managing Potentially Radioactive Scrap Metal (November 2002). He has written numerous scientific papers on this subject and has provided testimony regarding this threat on behalf of the American Iron and Steel Institute before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the American Iron and Steel Institute and the Steel Manufacturers Association before the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council.
Should you have questions about scrap monitoring, do not hesitate to contact us.