Reducing Risks in Industrial Uses


Waste Management

A disused sealed radioactive source is an accident waiting to happen, if it is not stored securely, conditioned, or disposed of properly. When a source no longer has a useful purpose, it should be disposed of permanently, and not stored at the user’s premises. Keeping old sources just in case (for such uses as back-up to a current source, etc.) is not a good practice. They can be forgotten, or lost or stolen.

Interim storage may be acceptable: if the facility is secure to prevent loss or theft; the source is properly conditioned so as to improve its shielding and stability; and proper records and periodic physical checks of the sources in interim storage are made. Given the possibility that such a source could be stolen and used for wrong purposes, good security must be assured.

When a source no longer has any use, the responsible regulatory authority should be notified and arrangements made for its management, either by

returning it to the manufacturer for disposal when feasible; or
transporting the source to the waste operator.

In Conclusion

The most effective means to prevent accidents with sealed radioactive sources is to adopt work habits that reduce the likelihood of a source becoming lost. The onus is on those professionals using sources to take the necessary steps to protect the public, the environment, and themselves from the serious consequences of an accident, each and every time they work with a radioactive source. Sources no longer in use should be transferred to the national waste operator as soon as possible.

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