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Any waste material containing or contaminated by radioactive material is considered a radioactive waste and must be disposed of appropriately. Procedures for accumulating and preparing radioactive waste for disposal depend on the form of the waste (absorbed liquids, dry solids, etc) and the isotope group described below.
Radioactive wastes are segregated into four groups based on isotope half-life. When accumulating radioactive wastes, avoid combining isotopes from different groups in the same waste container.
Short-lived radioactive wastes include the following three groups:
Long-lived radioactive wastes are in Group IV:
Group IV radionuclides have a half-life equal to or greater than 90 days. Isotopes in this group include 3H,14C and 45Ca.
Waste materials such as paper, plastic, gloves, wood, and metal (except lead - see Section 4.8.1, Lead under Section 4.8, Hazardous Materials Recycling and Universal Waste) are referred to as dry solid wastes (DSW) when contaminated with radioactive isotopes.
Exemptions: 3H and 14C LSC vials and animal tissue are not considered radioactive below 0.05 μCi/ml or μCi/gram.
Potentially contaminated items should be checked with an appropriate radiation detector, except for 3H and 14C. If not contaminated, dispose of them in normal trash.
To package DSW for collection by EH&S:
Any needles, pipettes, etc., must be excluded from dry solid waste and packaged in a sharps container.
All empty vials must be removed from their pigs, defaced, and disposed of in the appropriate dry solid waste container.
Vials that are not empty are collected in their pigs and held for decay. Empty pigs must be left open for collection.
Lead shielding and lead pigs for radioactive materials should be disposed according to Section 4.8.1, Lead under Section 4.8, Hazardous Materials Recycling and Universal Waste.
Wastes All aqueous (non-hazardous) liquids containing radioactive material must be considered radioactive waste. Such liquid must be completely absorbed (as described below) or sewered (see Section 7.5, Sewering Aqueous Radioactive Waste).
Hazardous chemicals containing radioactive material, including scintillation fluid, cannot be disposed of as radioactive waste. See Section 10, Mixed Waste.
To package AAL radioactive waste for collection by EH&S:
Radioactive animal waste and bedding may be disposed of into the sanitary sewer provided the quantity of radionuclide disposed of is within the sewer disposal limits specified in Chapter VI.Radioactive animal waste and bedding that is not sewerable, and other radioactive waste (including disposable gloves, cage liners, disposable cage bottoms, etc.), are to be placed in labeled radioactive waste containers for EH&S collection and disposal. Researchers and technicians will notify EH&S for pick-up and disposal of radioactive waste.
Animal carcasses containing only 3H or 14C with a maximum concentration of 0.05 mCi per gram of tissue averaged over the weight of the entire animal may be disposed of without regard to radioactivity by EH&S. A record of the disposal will be maintained by EH&S.
Animal carcasses that contain 3H or 14C in concentrations greater than 0.05 mCi per gram of tissue, or that contain other radionuclides and were euthanized before 10 half-lives, must be placed in double plastic bags, properly labeled, frozen, and disposed of as radioactive waste in accordance with this section. Researchers must call EH&S for disposal of radioactive carcasses.
Radioactive biological waste (animal carcasses, contaminated animal bedding, nonfixed tissues, etc.) must be placed inside two 3- to 4-mil plastic bags and secured with ties.
The outside of the bag must be labeled according to Section 7.6, Labeling Radioactive Waste.
Any needles, pipettes, etc., must be excluded from biological waste and packaged in a sharps container.
Alpha-emitting nuclides are prohibited from sewer disposal without specific written RSO approval via an RMUA (see Chapter IV).
Sewer disposal is permitted of a certain amount of water-soluble radioactive material per year, provided the material does not include a hazardous chemical that is restricted from sewer disposal. Check Section 5, Sewer Guidelines, and Section 10.3.3, Scintillation Fluids, to see if the chemical can be sewered, or call EH&S.
By default, each lab authorized to use radioactive material can sewer:
These limits can be adjusted based upon review by the RSO, authorized in writing and amended to the respective RMUA.
One sink should be singled out for disposals and labeled as radioactive. Following the discharge, flush disposal sink with water. Leave the water running for several minutes to prevent the activity from pooling in the plumbing. Avoid splashing and survey sink and surrounding area upon completion.
Keep a running tally of all disposals greater than 1 microcurie (μCi), their activities and disposal dates on a sewer discharge log posted near your sink. This log will be reviewed quarterly by EH&S.
Radioactive waste must be labeled with the following information. Use labels provided by EH&S.
Radioactive waste will be collected from labs by EH&S according to the waste collection procedure described in Section 4.4.