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Blue goo a weapon in nuclear cleanup

Dec. 6, 2011 at 8:31 PM   |   Comments

HONOLULU, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- A company based in Hawaii says it has come up with a safer, more effective way to clean up nuclear waste -- a superabsorbent substance it calls blue goo.

Cleaning up radioactive waste usually means scrubbing with soap and water, pails and brushes, a messy process that is dangerous for those exposed to dust and contaminated wastewater, an article in the National Geographic Magazine reported.

CBI Polymers says its DeconGel blue goo may not look high-tech, since all you do is pour it on, but its molecules act as a sponge when it gels, binding and encapsulating radioactive molecules.

The goo dries to a film that can be peeled off, rolled up and disposed of more cheaply and easily than vats of toxic water, the company says.

"It's the same concept as Silly Putty. It gets into every pore, nook, and cranny," said Hector Ramirez of the U.S. Department of Energy, who used it to clean up nuclear waste left over from weapons research at the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Oregon.

DeconGel can remove toxic elements such as lead, beryllium, mercury, arsenic, cadmium and chromium, the company says.

CBI says it donated 500 gallons to the nuclear cleanup in Japan, where it decontaminated 25,000 square feet of walls, sidewalks, and school playgrounds following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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