Hazardous...

Radiation protection - radioactive waste

These guidelines apply to all units that produce radioactive waste after using open radioactive sources, and all units that are permanently removing sealed radioactive sources from use. The guidelines do not apply to radioactive emissions to air or drains.

Norsk versjon - Strålevern - radioaktivt avfall

Topic page on HSE | Pages labelled radiation protection

Radioactive waste #

Radioactive waste from NTNU activities must be handled and disposed of in a safe and secure manner for both people and the environment.

See also open radioactive sources and sealed radioactive sources

Use the glossary (at the bottom of the guidelines) if you are unsure of the meaning of a term.

Responsibilities #

Line manager #

The line manager has the overarching responsibility for radiation protection at the unit. The line manager must perform their tasks as detailed in Radiation protection – responsibilities and tasks.

Additionally, the line manager must make sure that radioactive waste is handled in a way that does not cause danger to people, animals or the environment. This includes making sure that the unit has a suitable storage facility for radioactive waste.

Academic responsibility #

The person with academic responsibility must perform their tasks as detailed in Radiation protection – responsibilities and tasks, including handling of radioactive waste.

The person with academic responsibility should also provide:

  • Specifications for applicable waste handling procedures and training in these procedures for involved personnel.
  • Procedures for transport of radioactive waste from the laboratory to the waste storage facility. Such transport should only be performed by radiation source users or the person with academic responsibility.

Users of radiation sources #

All users of radiation sources must perform their tasks as detailed in Work with radiation sources. Users of radiation sources should also:

Local radiation protection coordinator #

The local radiation protection coordinator must perform their tasks as detailed in Radiation protection – responsibilities and tasks.

The local radiation protection coordinator should also:

  • Make sure that the declaration form for radioactive waste is filled out and that the waste is disposed of correctly. This is done in cooperation with the disposer of hazardous and chemical waste and the users that produce radioactive waste.
  • Make sure that the storage facility for radioactive waste fulfils the requirements for Storage of radioactive waste.

Central radiation protection coordinator #

The central radiation protection coordinator must perform their tasks detailed in Radiation protection – responsibilities and tasks.

Reducing the amount of radioactive waste #

  • Use techniques that do not include ionizing radiation sources when practicably possible.
  • Check whether other units at NTNU have equipment for non-radioactive techniques available.
  • Use isotopes with the lowest possible radiological toxicity and/or a short half-life. For example, P32 can be replaced by P33.
  • Plan experiments to produce as little waste as possible.
  • Be careful when handling waste. This will reduce the risk of contamination
  • Store waste with a half-life of under 90 days for at least 10 half-lives, until the waste can be further handled as hazardous waste. See the boundary values in the regulation of radioactive contamination and waste, appendix I letter a (in Norwegian).

General information about the handling of radioactive waste #

Radioactive waste must be handled according to chapter 16 in the waste regulations (in Norwegian).

Calculation of specific activity should be based on the weight of the waste itself. The weight of the packaging must not be part of the calculation.

  • Always use gloves when handling waste containers.
  • Flammable, non-radioactive substances and materials must not be placed in containers for radioactive waste.
  • Use plastic hazardous waste containers with tight lids.
  • Radioactive waste disposed of as hazardous waste after deactivation must not contain:
  1. hazardous materials (toxicants, lead, etc.)
  2. other hazardous waste
  3. sharp, non-contaminated objects (e.g. needles, razors)

Classification of radioactive waste #

Radioactive isotopes are classified based on whether they have a half-life of less or more than 90 days.

β and γ emitters require different protection and therefore separate waste containers. β emitters can be stored with γ emitters if they are stored in acrylic glass containers inside leaden containers. Remember to consider the half-life.

If the waste contains several different isotopes, it must be stored in a container intended for the isotope with the longest half-life and handled accordingly.

Solid and fluid radioactive waste must not be mixed. Scintillation counter fluid must be disposed of separately.

Solid radioactive waste #

Solid radioactive waste includes powder, paper, gloves, clothes, contaminated laboratory equipment, contaminated overshoes, etc.

  • Solid waste should be placed in dedicated containers with lids.
  • The containers must never be filled to the point where the lid can no longer be properly closed.
  • Radioactive pathological waste must be labelled and stored safely in a freezer labelled for this purpose. Both the waste container and the freezer must be labelled with the symbol for radioactivity/ionizing radiation.

Fluid radioactive waste #

Fluid radioactive waste includes the radioactive material and fluids from the first cleaning of equipment/containers.

Fluid waste must be placed in dedicated containers that can withstand the different solvents and radioactivity. The containers are placed in an outer tub large enough to hold the containers' content in case of an accident.

Solutions containing a mixture of radioactive material and hazardous/toxic substances or scintillation fluids require different handling, see below.

Excrement from experimental animals can be disposed of in the sewage system without regard to activity boundaries.

It is not permitted to dilute radioactive waste to get below the values specified in the regulation of radioactive contamination and waste, appendix I (in Norwegian). However, it is permitted to classify and distribute the waste to several waste units, in order for each unit to come under the boundary values for specific activity.

Scintillation counter fluid #

Scintillation counter fluid waste can be disposed of as hazardous waste (not radioactive waste) provided that the specific activity is less than the values specified in the regulation of radioactive contamination and waste, appendix I letter a (in Norwegian). The scintillation fluid is collected in dedicated containers for hazardous waste. NB: Do not fill the containers to the point where the lid cannot be properly closed.

When the container is full, calculate how many litres of scintillation fluid waste, how many Bq (dpm:60) and how many Bq/g it contains. These figures are recorded in the journal and on the container. All containers in the waste room must be labelled with the following:

  • Scintillation fluid
  • litres
  • Bq value
  • Bq/g value (1 ml counter fluid = approx. 1 g)
  • isotope
  • department name
  • name of contact person
  • date

Containers with scintillation counter fluid waste can be stored for a maximum of 90 days before disposal.

Sharp items and contaminated disposable equipment #

Sharp items and disposable equipment used during work with radioactive materials must be placed in separate, protected containers. It is important that the waste is properly packed to avoid cuts and injuries while handling the containers. The protection should be selected based on the type of radiation.

When the container is full, it should be placed in a box labelled with hazardous waste and handled as solid radioactive waste.

Glass waste contaminated by radioactive substances #

Glass waste contaminated by radioactive substances below the exemption boundaries in the regulation of radioactive contamination and waste, appendix I letter a (in Norwegian), must be placed in a dedicated hazardous waste box and handled as sharp waste.

Glass waste contaminated by radioactive substances above the exemption boundaries is handled as solid radioactive waste.

If it is impossible to calculate the specific activity, the contaminated glass waste must be handled as radioactive waste.

Labelling of boxes/containers with radioactive waste #

If the radiation level anywhere outside the box/container containing radioactive waste exceeds 7.5 μSv/t, the box/container must be labelled with the symbol for radioactivity/ionizing radiation.

The boxes/containers must be clearly labelled with:

  • department
  • name of the user who has produced the waste
  • date
  • type of waste
  • quantity
  • estimated activity
  • at which time the activity is expected to be below 7.5 μSv/t, or the date when 10 half-lives have passed (when applicable)

For isotopes with a half-life of less than 90 days, one should be able to remove the labelling when the waste is no longer radioactive.

Storing radioactive waste #

Radioactive waste must be stored in an approved storage area or room. The storage area must be dedicated to this type of waste, and it has to be locked and inaccessible to unauthorized personnel.

The storage area must have an easily available list of people who have access to the area and an overview of the radioactive waste, including nuclides, activity level and the estimated date for when the waste falls below the activity boundary for radioactive waste.

The storage must be marked with warning signs for ionizing radiation, in accordance with the Workplace Regulations, chapter 5. The storage area must also have room cards.

On the outside of the storage area, in areas where only employees have access, the radiation level must not exceed 7.5 μSv/t.

On the outside of the storage area, in areas where others have access, the radiation level must not exceed 0.25 mSv/year.

Deactivated radioactive waste should be disposed of as hazardous waste. All symbols for radioactivity must be removed from all radioactive waste when it has been deactivated.

Sealed sources that have been permanently removed from use should not be stored on NTNU property for more than a year.

Declaration #

Radioactive waste shall be declared through https://www.avfallsdeklarering.no/

Scintillation counter fluid #

Fill in the following in the declaration when disposing of scintillation counter fluid:

  • Beskrivelse av avfallet 
    • Norwegian Waste code 7152
    • EWL-code 180106
    • Under "Additional information", write: "Scintillation counter fluid, Bq value, Bq/g value, isotope type and quantity."
  • Transport classification
    • Check "Not subject to classification requirements".

Print the declaration and attach it to the container. If there is more than one container, one form is enough (litres, Bq value, Bq/g value and the number of containers must be specified in the declaration).

All containers must be labelled with the declaration number, Norwegian Waste Code and EWL-code.

NB! If the activity is at 10^6 Bq/g or more for 3H and at 10^4 Bq/g or more for 14C, the waste is subject to mandatory disposal. See waste subject to mandatory disposal . If the waste contains more than one radionuclide, it must be assessed in accordance with the summation rule in the regulation of radioactive contamination and waste, appendix I letter b (in Norwegian).

Contact Norsk Gjenvinning AS if you need assistance with disposal of other radioactive sources.

Sending radioactive waste #

The disposer is responsible for making sure that radioactive waste is sent to a recipient approved by the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority for receiving and handling (burning, storing) radioactive waste (cf §§ 16-5 and 16-6 in the waste regulations).

Norsk Gjenvinning can transport radioactive waste, but cannot temporarily store this type of waste. The disposer has to contact the recipient before the waste is sent, to make sure that Norsk Gjenvinning is able to deliver the waste. See also attachment HMSRV3503 (in Norwegian).

Waste subject to mandatory disposal #

The regulations for radioactive contamination and waste contain a table that, in appendix I letter b (in Norwegian) specifies boundary values for total activity (Bq) per year and for specific activity (Bq/g) for each nuclide. The waste is subject to mandatory disposal if BOTH of these boundary values are equalled or exceeded.

NTNU is expected to exceed the boundary value for total activity (Bq) per year. Therefore, the specific activity in each waste unit (box, barrel, etc.) determines if the waste is subject to mandatory disposal, or if it can be delivered as radioactive waste.

The weight of the waste, the packaging not included, should be used as the basis for determining the specific activity.

If the waste contains more than one radionuclide, the summation rule (in Norwegian) in the regulation's appendix I letter b, should be used to define whether the waste is subject to mandatory disposal.

For mandatory disposal of waste, contact the Institute for Energy Technology at Kjeller to schedule delivery. Subsequently, contact Norsk Gjenvinning to schedule transportation.

See guidelines for packaging and delivery of isotope waste to Kjeller (in Norwegian).

Radioactive emissions #

Radioactive emissions to the air or drains require specific permission from the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority. It is not permitted to emit small amounts of radioactive substances if this can be avoided. Diluting and pouring out small amounts of radioactive substances into a sink must not occur. Contact your local or central radiation protection coordinator for more information.

Glossary #

Radioactive waste subject to mandatory disposal: Radioactive waste with an activity equal to or larger than the values specified in the regulation of radioactive contamination and waste, appendix I letter b (in Norwegian).

dpm: disintegrations per minute. Bq is calculated by dividing the dpm by 60. Bq = dps. When using a scintillation counter, the activity is often given in counts per minute (cpm). To calculate the Bq, the result must be adjusted for counting efficiency. Check the counter against a known source to determine the counting efficiency.

Hazardous waste: Waste that can cause injury or damage to animals, people or the environment if it is not safely handled. Must be sendt to approved disposal facilities. Examples: Biological hazardous waste; sharp needles/points, infectious substances, drug residues, etc.

Radioactive waste: Discarded objects, solutions or substances that are considered to be waste according to the Pollution Act § 27, first paragraph, and consists of or is contaminated by a radioactive substance with a specific activity equal to or larger than the values specified in the regulation of radioactive contamination and waste, appendix I letter a (in Norwegian).

Specific activity: Bq/g.

Open radioactive sources: Radioactive substances that are not sealed.When handling open radioactive sources, you have direct access to the radioactive substance.

Sealed radioactive sources: Radioactive substances that are encapsuled to prevent radiation to the surroundings.

Help #

NTNU regulations #

Legislation #

Contact #

Approval/signature #

Approved by the Director of HSE – February 19 2015 – HMSR35E – ePhorte ....

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