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Radioactive Waste Disposal
Radioactive waste is not to be discarded by regular means of disposal. Specific rules, regulations, and guidelines must be followed for the disposal of radioactive waste. Emphasis is placed on the segregation of different types of waste according to radionuclide, half-life, chemical form, physical form, or combinations thereof. All rad waste disposals must be entered on the inventory form.
The following procedures and guidelines are to be used in the disposal of radioactive waste:
- Sewer Disposal of Aqueous, Readily Soluble, or Readily Dispersible Biological Material in Water
- Radionuclides in Microcurie Amounts
- Radionuclides in Millicurie Amounts
Most of this aqueous liquid waste in microcurie amounts, including biodegradable scintillation cocktails can be discarded down designated sink drains, if disposal records are maintained. Such liquids must be aqueous, readily soluble in water, or readily dispersible biological material in water. Records of all sewer disposals must be indicated on the monthly inventory form. The chemical constituents of the radioactive waste must also be considered prior to sewer disposal. For assistance in determining which chemical forms are permissible for sewer disposal, contact the FSU Department of Environmental Health and Safety at 850-644-6895.
To minimize splashing, an aerator should be installed on the faucet of any sink used for the disposal of radioactive materials.
Aqueous, readily soluble in water or readily dispersible biological material in water containing millicurie amounts of radionuclides shall be collected in five-gallon safety containers provided by the Radiation Safety Office. Such waste will be properly disposed of by the Radiation Safety Office. Prior to pick up, fill out the Radioactive Materials Waste Pick Up card, provided by the Radiation Safety Office.
Five-gallon safety containers are provided to each laboratory that generates radioactive organic liquid waste, which usually consists of xylene, benzene, or toluene based scintillation fluid.
- Exempt Concentrations of Tritium and Carbon-14
- Nonexempt Concentrations and Other Radionuclides
Separate containers are provided for exempt concentrations of less than 0.05 microcurie per gram of tritium and carbon-14.
Additional containers will be provided by the Radiation Safety Office commensurate with the particular variety of radionuclides used in a lab. All containers must be labeled as to which specific radionuclides should be discarded therein; strict compliance with these labels is essential.
When the container is nearly full, contact Radiation Safety for pick up. Prior to pick up, fill out the Radioactive Material Waste Pick Up card, provided by the Radiation Safety Office.
- Other Solid Waste
Sharps contaminated with radionuclides should be placed into cardboard boxes, with sharps contaminated with transuranics being kept in separate boxes from waste with a half-life of <90 days and waste with a half-life of >90 days. The Radiation Safety Office can furnish the boxes. Upon pick up by Radiation Safety personnel, the sharps boxes must be kept separate from other solid waste.
Containers for discarding solid radioactive waste in the laboratories are provided by the Radiation Safety Office. Such waste shall be segregated by category; <90 day half-life, >90 day half-life, and transuranics. If more than one waste category exists in a laboratory, the containers will be marked as to which radionuclides are to be placed into the specific containers. Compliance with such markings is essential. When the waste containers are full, before overflowing, contact the Radiation Safety Office for pick up. Prior to pick up, fill out the Radioactive Material Waste Pick Up card, provided by the Radiation Safety Office.
- All animal carcasses containing radioactive waste shall be segregated in the laboratory prior to pick up by Radiation Safety personnel for disposal in accordance with the following criteria:
- Carcasses containing tritium or carbon-14 in quantities less than 0.05 microcurie per gram, when averaged over the initial weight of the animal, should be transferred directly to FSU Laboratory Animal Resources for incineration. Records of these transfers must be entered on the Inventory form; include radionuclide, original live animal weight and activity.
- Carcasses containing <90 day half-life radioisotopes will be picked up by Radiation Safety personnel for decay before incineration.
- Carcasses containing other radioisotopes and concentrations will ultimately be shipped by the Radiation Safety Office to a disposal site and must be stored in a freezer until picked up by Radiation Safety personnel. Precautions should be taken to prevent carcasses from freezing into a large mass; the carcasses must fit into a 30-gallon drum. Laboratory personnel are responsible for seeing that large animal carcasses are reduced in size to fit into a 30-gallon drum.
Contact the Radiation Safety Office for pick up. Prior to pick up, fill out the Radioactive Material Waste Pick Up card, provided by the Radiation Safety Office; include the live weight of the animal and if it contains tritium or carbon-14.
All radioactive animal excrement and bedding should be kept separate from other waste. Contact the Radiation Safety Office for pick up. Prior to pick up, fill out the Radioactive Material Waste Pick Up card. Separate animal excrement or bedding according to radionuclide concentration averaged over the net weight of the bag and/or according to the half-life as follows:
- Tritium or carbon-14, less than 0.05 microcurie per gram in one container and greater than 0.05 microcurie per gram in another.
- All radionuclides, other than tritium and carbon- 14, with a half-life <90 days in one container and those with a half-life of >90 days in another.
Mixing radioactive waste with other hazardous material is discouraged by the Radiation Safety Office. When this is unavoidable, adhere to the following criteria:
- Mixed waste containing radionuclides with a half-life of <90 days will be held for decay by the Radiation Safety Office and disposed of in accordance with the hazardous material's disposal requirements.
- Mixed waste containing radionuclides with a half-life of >90 days must be kept separate from all other mixed waste. Disposal of such waste is difficult and expensive and a conference should be held with the Radiation Safety Officer prior to the generation of such waste.