The U.S. Energy Department is backing away from a plan to sell its huge stock of nickel left over from nuclear weapons manufacture, acknowledging that it may be too radioactive to put on the open market. In August 1997, the department announced a plan to sell 6,000 tons of nickel this year and another 10,000 tons at a later time. Though the material is radioactive, there is no standard measure of how much radioactivity in such material is unsafe, so the plan did not violate any rules. Scrap dealers and steel industry leaders were horrified, however, wanting nothing to do with even mildly radioactive metal, and congressional critics raised the specter of the nickel ending up in items like silverware and dental braces.