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Waste Volume Reduction

Reviewed 5/31/16

      Generators of low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) face a financial challenge when dealing with the disposal of radioactive waste.  All LLRW that is to be buried at designated special LLRW landfills is assessed a surcharge per cubic foot, in addition to the transportation and disposal charges.

      It is extremely important that all persons working with radioactive materials, and producing LLRW, reduce the volume of such waste as much as possible. 

      A number of general suggestions are listed below.  We recognize each laboratory may have unique waste problems and we will work with you individually as needed.

1. Where possible, replace current analytical techniques using radioactive materials with those that do not.

2. Substitute short-lived radionuclides for longer-lived ones now in use.  This would allow for more use of in-house decay.

3. Consolidate radioactive work areas, reduce the size of and carefully delineate boundaries of such areas.  This would tend to reduce the amount of protective covering, etc., needed to protect work surfaces.

4. Review procedures in order to look for areas where LLRW production might be reduced.

5. Purchase only the amount of radionuclide you need.

6. Implement a careful monitoring program where all waste items are checked for contamination.  Only waste items actually containing radioactive material are to be considered LLRW.

7. Count Phosphorous-32 without scintillation fluid by the Cherenkov method on the Hydrogen-3 setting of a liquid scintillation counter.  This method has an efficiency of approximately 40%.  The material can then be held for decay and eventually discarded in the sewer.

8. Count Iodine-125 without scintillation fluid in a gamma scintillation counter, hold for decay and discard.

9. When using Liquid Scintillation Counting (LSC), change to “biodegradable” or “drain disposable” LSC fluids.

10. Convert to 1.5 or 2.0 ml microcentrifuge tubes in order to reduce total volume of scintillation fluid.