An ingredient in kitty litter may be just the thing to help clean up a radioactive mess left in West Valley, N.Y., by an old recycling plant for spent nuclear fuel rods. Nearly 1,000 scientists and engineers have spent 18 years and $1.5 billion working to clean up the site, employing such high technology as custom-designed robots and remote-controlled ovens that bake liquid wastes into solid glass cylinders. Their latest effort is decidedly more low-tech — digging a deep trench and burying a wall of zeolite, a category of minerals found in millions of litter boxes, to soak up radioactive material tainting groundwater. If the method is successful, it could be used at other nuclear sites across the country.