Scrap and Contaminated Metals Recycling

Economic Analysis of Nickel Release

Scrap and contaminated metals projects summarize the history of the issues and activities concerning the disposition of the 9700 metric tons of nickel ingots volumetrically contaminated with 99Tc that are stored at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP). Technical, regulatory, and political constraints are considered with strategies suggested to address the constraints. Potential paths forward for disposition of the nickel with potential benefits to the Paducah community are considered from an economic context.  The bullets below summarize recommended actions to support economic disposition of the nickel.

Summary Recommendations

  • Obtain proposals from companies capable of processing the nickel into a state suitable for restricted use within the government nuclear sector, including DOE, NRC, and DOD
  • If a company claims the capability of cleaning the nickel to background levels of activity, develop a protocol for pilot studies, involving the University of Kentucky (UK) or other independent, expert agency, to validate both the process and the product with suitable confidentiality agreements in place to protect proprietary technologies
  • Identify potential internal users of the nickel and nickel-derived products, the processing required to produce usable products, and existing facilities capable of production
  • Evaluate the most economical method of producing end-products for use in the government nuclear sector while minimizing new creation of radioactive scrap metal by contaminating processing equipment
  • Involve representatives from the scrap metal industry and from affected labor unions in every step of the process from the current Expression of Interest (EOI) through contract award
  • Inform the public and give opportunity for input at every phase from the current EOI though contract award
  • Recommend that the processing occur at the location from which most of the nickel originates; presumably the Paducah site


Project Manager
Steve Hampson, Associate Director/Co-Principal Investigator, University of Kentucky, Kentucky Research Consortium for Energy & Environment
Principal Investigators
David Silverstein, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Kentucky Paducah Engineering Program
Document TitleDescriptionYear
Disposition of Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant NickelProject Report2007
Economic Analysis of Nickel Release Schedules Project Presentation2006