FORT KNOX: Tainted With Radioactive Gold?

GoldFinger Image

Not only is there conjecture that some or most of the gold at Fort Knox may be missing, but also there is speculation that some radioactive gold made its way into U.S. Treasury Gold Reserve.  The movie Goldfinger, in which James Bond stops a plot to radiate the U.S. gold at Fort Knox, may actually turn out to be more truth than fiction.

One of my readers sent me some information about the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah, Kentucky.  The plant was built in 1952 and was the only uranium enrichment facility in the United States (wikipedia).  One of the secret missions of the plant was to recycle nuclear warheads retired from service.

According to the 1999 Washington Post article, Gold May Have Too Much Glow:

Workers used hammers and acetylene torches to strip away bits of gold and other metals from the warheads’ corrosion-proof plating and circuitry. Useless parts were dumped into trenches. But the gold – some of it still radioactive – was tossed into a smelter and molded into shiny ingots.

Exactly what happened next is one of the most intriguing questions to arise from a workers’ lawsuit against the former operators of the U.S.-owned uranium plant in western Kentucky. Three employees contend that the plant failed for years to properly screen gold and other metals for radioactivity. Some metals, they say, may have been highly radioactive when they left Paducah, bound perhaps for private markets.

How interesting… it seems as if recycled gold from retired nuclear warheads at the Paducah plant was not tested and sent back into the public market.  The article makes the following points:

Recovering gold and other valuable metals from retired nuclear weapons had been a little-known mission of the government’s uranium enrichment plants over the past five decades. At Paducah, the process began in the 1950s and was conducted under extraordinary security, with heavily armed guards escorting warheads into the plant under cover of darkness.

Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant

(Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, Paducah, KY)

Garland “Bud” Jenkins, one of three Paducah workers involved in the lawsuit filed under seal in June, says he worked for several years in Paducah’s metals program recovering gold, lead, aluminum and nickel from nuclear weapons and production equipment.

“We melted the gold flakes in a furnace to create gold bars,” Jenkins said in court documents. “The gold was never surveyed radiologically prior to its release, to my knowledge.”

Now, according to the Department of Energy Report released December 21, 2000 on the Cold War ERA activities at the Paducah site:

In a separate report, DOE also investigated past metals recovery programs performed at the site from 1952 to 1986. The review included an extensive study of historical documents and interviews with current and retired employees. During this period, large quantities of steel, nickel, aluminum, copper, monel, cobalt, gold and silver were recovered at Paducah.

Based on available records, DOE estimates that between 2,800 and 5,300 pounds of gold from retired nuclear weapon assemblies and scrap parts was recovered and shipped from the Paducah Plant from 1964 to 1985. The operations used to reclaim gold were kept separate from other materials and contaminated processes onsite, but were conducted in contaminated areas of two buildings. For much of this period, recovered gold was shipped to the U.S. Department of Treasury for refinement and reuse. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, some gold was sold to commercial reprocessors.

So, there you have it.  The Department of Energy confirms in the released reports that 2,800-5,300 pounds of gold were recycled and shipped from the Paducah plant.  What is really interesting is the sentence that states, FOR MUCH OF THIS PERIOD, RECOVERED GOLD WAS SHIPPED TO THE U.S. TREASURY FOR REFINEMENT AND REUSE.

Now…. I don’t see how that sentence could be misconstrued as it was from an official government agency.  Of course, we don’t know how much gold was recast into bars and made it into the U.S. Gold Reserve, or how radioactive this gold may have been, but we do have clear evidence that it did occur.

If we consider that say 3-4,000 pounds of gold were recycled and made their way into the U.S. Gold Reserve, that’s upwards of (160) 400 oz bars sitting in Fort Knox or sold to some POOR CENTRAL BANK SLOB… who has no idea the gold they received may indeed be glowing.

How ironic… we were stupid back then when it came to knowing the dangers of radioactive elements and today we are stupid when it comes to understanding the dangers of a highly leveraged derivative financial paper system.  I would imagine, both will cause us serious trouble in the future.

That being said, one of the personal tragedies of the Paducah plant is worth mentioning (even though there are probably countless others).  Joe Harding was an employee at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant who died in 1980 with stomach cancer…. he was 58 years old.

In the article, A Deathly Postscript Comes Back To Life (written by Joby Warrick, Washington Post):

It was “important, patriotic, secret work,” Harding wrote of the job he started in 1952, the year the plant opened. “Brainwashing started in training school: ‘Don’t talk to anyone. Never mention radiation. The public is stupid about radiation.’ “

Soon Harding was put to work as a “process operator,” mixing powdered uranium with fluorine and other chemicals. Inside the buildings, he wrote, the air was “heavy” with uranium dust, which is mildly radioactive and toxic if ingested or inhaled. Unknown to workers at the time, it also contained small amounts of plutonium and other radioactive metals that are thousands of times more dangerous than uranium.

“I spent all those years breathing uranium hexafluoride gas so thick and heavy that you could see the haze in the air,” Harding said in a hand-written account in 1979. “You could taste it coated on your teeth and in your throat and lungs. . . . Powder on the floor was thick enough that you would leave tracks.”

This next excerpt shows the compassion of the corporation that ran the Paducah Plant:

Harding had worked at the plant less than a year when the first medical symptoms appeared, according to records made available by his widow. Lesions appeared on his legs, and slowly spread through the rest of his body. His weight dropped from 175 to 125 pounds. Searing pain radiated from his stomach and he vomited so frequently his co-workers mockingly called him “Joe Erp.”

Later, fingernail-like calcium growths began emerging from his finger joints, elbows and knees. X-rays of his lungs turned up odd-looking pockmarks. He lost most of his stomach to cancer.

….. Eventually Harding’s increasingly vocal complaints about working conditions earned him a reputation as a troublemaker, and he bounced around from one section of the plant to another. Finally, in 1971, the plant offered him a full-disability pension, citing a leg injury that Harding had received on the job.

Harding accepted the offer and went home to wait for his first check. It never came. He later learned that his disability claim had been rejected, and along with it his pension and medical insurance.

As we can see, nothing has changed in Corporate America.. that is, unless you are a CEO or upper management.  Harding was promised full-disability pension, which was reneged soon after he left the plant.

What I find even more interesting is the investigation by the Department of Energy at Harding’s request.  Again.. according to the article:

After 18 months and a two-day visit to Paducah, the department concluded that Harding’s illnesses were more likely caused by smoking and by the fact he “frequently ate country ham,” according to the 1981 report.

It wasn’t the two decades of uranium powder exposure that caused Harding’s stomach cancer, but his smoking and “Frequent consumption of country ham.”…LOL.  You can’t make this stuff up.

Two decades after Harding’s death, the U.S. Govt Department of Energy had a change of heart.  On August 10, 1999, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson stated publicly that “Joe Harding was a hero of the Cold War”, and that the government owed Harding and other workers an investigation on whether their work at the Paducah plant put them in harms way.

Currently, the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant is now being decommissioned and will cost $billions and many years to complete.  Of course the private companies such as Lockheed Martin and Union Carbide that ran the plant at various times, does not have any financial exposure to the clean-up… its all from the public coffers.

So, as the lights go out at the only uranium enrichment plant in the United States, there is high probability that gold bars are glowing brightly at some lucky vault.  The real question is this… are they part of the remaining gold at Fort Knox, or does some unfortunate Central Bank now the owner of the HOTTEST GOLD on the planet?

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24 Comments on "FORT KNOX: Tainted With Radioactive Gold?"

  1. Outlookingin | January 6, 2015 at 2:30 pm |

    Steve, it’s an old tune that just keeps on repeating. There is none, nor has there ever been, any corporate public morality to do the right thing if it costs money!

    This nuclear waste is just one more instance of privatizing the profits and socializing the cost.
    The Giant Mine in Yellowknife Canada, is siting on 237,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide dust. This is enough poison to kill every human being on earth! Extremely toxic. This is a by-product of gold mining. The corporate owners took all the gold, then walked away. Leaving the mess to the public purse to attempt a clean up. Same old, same old.

  2. Mark in Denver | January 6, 2015 at 3:37 pm |

    This is nonsense. There are many radioisotopes of gold, but the most stable has a half-life of only 186 days. Most of the rest only exist for less than a second. All the radioisotopes would have decayed away many years ago. Thus, pure gold would not be radioactive now. If it was mixed with uranium or plutonium , or other long-lived isotopes, then the mixture could be radioactive, but it would not be coming from the gold. See this

    • Thank you Mark! You’re a sensible person.

      I rolled my eyes the whole way through the article. They didn’t say if they were talking about radioactive isotopes of gold or about contamination. If they melted it down, presumably they would purified out contaminants, so we’re left with the assumption of radioactive isotopes of gold.

      But wait. These materials were only exposed to undetonated nuclear weapons. I wouldn’t expect them to be very radioactive at all.

      • I agree. Gold is inert, that’s why it doesn’t rust. So, unless it has been contaminated with other radioactive elements (say, by melting it down with other elements), it is not generally radioactive, and certainly not now, years later.

  3. American Middle Class: “Do you want me to talk?”

    Janet Yellen: “NO, Mr. Bond/American Middle Class, I want you to die!”

    • I think the line was “Do you expect me to talk?” “No, Mr Bond/middle class I expect you to die ”

      Uranium and plutonium are heavier than gold. If you tried to refine the gold that could present a problem, depending on technique.

  4. Gold has only one stable
    isotope, so all natural gold has an atomic weight of about 197 (called Au-
    197), and this isotope has a reasonably high neutron activation cross-
    section. So exploding a nuclear weapon would probably lead to a lot of
    radioactive gold. However, there is only one isotope of gold that has a
    half-life of more than a few days (Au-195, 186 days), and it is impossible
    to produce this isotope by neutron irradiation. So any radioactive gold
    would lose its induced radioactivity within a month or so.

    • Agreed, Evan. From a post at SilverDoctors website:

      I have a great deal of respect for Steve StA and his tireless work on metals inventories, EROI analyses, etc. But I’m very dissappointed that he didn’t invest a few minutes in fact-checking before penning this particular article. I have only a geeky high schooler’s level of education in physics but it took less than 5 minutes with Google to learn that, of the 36 radioisotopes of element Au, the longest half-life among them is less than 3 days. Couple this fact with knowledge that one of the several reasons gold has been historically popular as money is that it is very easy to physically and chemically separate it from other materials that it may find itself mixed with, and one can confidently predict that any Paducah-processed bars would not be “brightly glowing” in whatever vault they may now reside. If the bars are of reasonable purity (say .999) then any radioactivity resulting from gold radioisotopes created by earlier neutron capture from the decay of other radioactive elements would have diminished to extremely low levels before a single year had elapsed. And after more than 50 years, I doubt that instruments exist which could distinguish such a sample of gold from an equivalent-mass sample that had never been exposed to any kind of neutron radiation since the day it was mined. So, personally I would have absolutely no reservations about being assigned to the Fort Knox audit team. In fact, let’s bring it on… I’ll clear my calendar!

      • diller72,

        Alright… you get a GOLD STAR for regurgitating what others have said in the comment section. Again, I was going by what a previous Washington Post writer had published. Sure, maybe I should have looked into it more, but again, I never said I was an expert on everything.

        Furthermore, you say that you have a GEEKY HIGH SCHOOL education and you knew the GOODS on this one. However, when I contacted a professor of Chemistry on this subject matter, he said he didn’t know the answer and had to get back with me. So maybe the subject of gold radioactivity is a bit more complex.

        Either way, thanks for your reply and I appreciate you setting me straight on this one.


        • My gold is stamped 99.99….that suggests 1 gram of impurity per kilogram….if that impurity happens to be a gram of pure plutonium I am sure the bar would register on a geiger counter….but then again I also only have a high school chemistry knowledge.

  5. mark,
    thanks a lot for your info.

  6. So now ,Germany and the other N.Europe nations are supposed to change their mind.Only if you put the gold through the Monsanto works ,well mixed,will we consider it toxic.Just send it back,IF you have it.

  7. Just saw an interesting documentary about nuclear energy. Don’t know if it’s true though.

  8. This is certainly interesting. Somewhere in my files, I have two newspaper clippings from the late 1970’s. One is an advice column (anyone remember Ann Landers?) asking if it is possible for a husband who was cheating to develop an allergy to a gold ring due to feelings of guilt. The second clipping is about a man in Toronto who noticed that where he wore his ring, he developed a reddish rash. In that case, it was discovered that ‘a medical clinic had disposed of several radium needles and contaminated the gold’. At the time, some radiologists said that if he had continued to wear the thing, he could have ended up with bone cancer. My main interest then was because my dad was undergoing surgical removal of induced bone cancer in his hands from an earlier (1950’s) dermatological treatment using mild x-rays.

  9. Funnny you should mention this. I developed a late in life allergy to gold. Both my 18k gold wedding band and the gold links in my watch band caused a very red, very itchy rash when ever I wore them for an extended period of time. Dermatologist said it was and allergy to the gold and I could probably fix it by having the wedding ring plated with rhodium. When I check with the one local jeweler that could do it he quoted about $1,000. Needless to say I opted to just stop wearing jewelery. Offerd my wife of nearly 50 years to have the ring tattooed on and she just laughed – she fiqured I was such an old fart that it really didn’t pose any threats.

  10. Am I the only one suspecting a false information campaign here? And I don’t mean at any fault of this well intended author. If so, one can only wonder how they might eventually attempt to make silver “hazardous” to own, too.
    With all the dangerous legislation out there coming in under the radar, I don’t doubt anything anymore.
    I can hear ’em now: “They’ll never willingly turn it in, so let’s make it hazardous to own.”
    (just a thought)

    • Rando,

      Fer heavens sakes… I DON’T DO MISINFORMATION CAMPAIGNS…LOL. I am not a chemist and do not know EVERYTHING in the world. However, when I was sent this information and then I came across some older Washington Post articles, I thought radiated gold was something to consider.

      Now, if I am wrong about it… well then I am wrong. Every once in a long while, I can write something stupid. However, I have contacted someone who is a professor of chemistry and asked him if gold is no longer radioactive after it has been remelted.. and he didn’t even know. He said he would get back with me.

      Anyhow… if the gold is not radiated, at least the personal story of the contamination of the workers still provides some worthwhile information.


  11. Hi!, Patrons Of SRSROCO Et. Al.:

    If you can find it on the internet, you might also have an interest in reading MALATHION FACTS from Acres USA? Although not specifically related to the topic of radiation contaminated gold bars, it, however, does concern a banned pesticide called Malathion which, when released into the environment, becomes a more toxic substance titled malaoxin which the article claims is 10,000 X more toxic than its’ parent Malathion. These pesticides, when ingested from eating contaminated vegetables etc., tend to gradually accumulate and lodge in OUR bone marrow where OUR blood is produced. As one of my deceased friends us to say to me: “Russ, yah! they claim to have banned Malathion but growers have huge warehousing facilities where they can store years worth of it plus all the chemical companies have to do is change the chemistry slightly and rename it something else which may or may not begin another long process of watching to see what happens with its’ use while it does its’ harm to consumers!!” As we now know many growers even took their operations to other countries where these toxic pesticides are still acceptable and then have their mature produce etc. shipped into the US etc. I may stir up a hornets’ nest in stating this here but, in my reviews of the Gospel of OUR Lord & Savior, Jesus, isn’t He telling US that the only cure for these types of social diseases is to love one another as He loves US? You can pass all the regulations you want in Congress and at the level of the Supreme Court all you desire to but the bottom line is that, when it comes to money, there are no limits that the human mind can fathom to cover up and deceive other humans especially within the world of chemistry. That is until love takes control!! My Mom died from bone marrow cancer Nov. 30, 2014. The cancer was feeding and growing so fast inside her bones that all of a sudden her bones would just burst apart causing such extreme pain the Hospice had to sedate her with morphine until she passed. Yes!, furthermore, the gospel projects that, in the last days, perilous times would happen and please believe me brothers and sisters they have arrived in more ways than we can count or control but love could and would if it is given a fair enough chance!!

    RUSS SMITH, CA. (One Of Our Broke, Fiat Money Corrupt States)

  12. MORGAN SMITH | January 11, 2015 at 4:33 pm |

    If this or any gold contained any radioactive contamination it should be able to be dectected wiith a geiger counter or a TLD.

  13. James Randolph | January 12, 2015 at 4:01 am |

    I do not believe that the Author of this article had any malevolent purpose in posting his article. I found the subject matter interesting and thought provoking and that’s all.

    I do, however, believe that there are conspiracies to suppress the true worth of precious metals by the likes of the Central Banks (and bankers) as well as by the unfettered and unchecked printers of our Fiat currency. As most of you probably know, a few years ago the U.S. Government announced that they would no longer report on how much Fiat currency they were printing. The U.S. dollar is not worth the paper it’s printed on and some day the illusion of it’s worth is going to come to light. When that day comes, the SWHTF, and precious metals will skyrocket.

    Some countries are already refusing payment in U.S. Dollars for their goods and that trend is growing. The U.S. Dollar cannot be considered the Worlds currency much longer.

    I’ve read more than one article that more Silver has been sold than exists above ground. If all of the vaults supposedly holding Gold and Silver were physically audited that there would be serious shortages – irritated precious metals or not. I use to hold “paper” precious metals too, but became nervous after reading several articles about oversold Gold and Silver. I now subscribe to the “If you can’t hold it, you don’t own it” club.

    I would be VERY interested in knowing how much Gold our government actually has in Fort Knox and other storage facilities. I would be equally interested in the actual physical inventories of the numerous EFT “paper” precious metals facilities. I liken it to Musical Chairs. When the music stops, many are likely to be short of more than a chair.

  14. Steve, I just came across this blog site and read the first few articles. I had my misgivings about irradiated gold, too, and figured I’d just chalk this one up to ‘interesting but questionable.’ Then I started seeing refutations in the comments and felt they were more credible. Then I saw you acknowledge your mistake, TWICE! I want you know that doing that elevates your credibility in my mind a great deal. We all make mistakes. Not too many are willing to say, “Oops. Yup. That was my mistake. Duly noted.”
    Nice job.


    • Jon Lojux,

      Yeah, I really got that one wrong…LOL. Thanks for stopping by and checking out the site.


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