EH&S Safety News

Proper Disposal of Dry Solid Long-lived Radioactive Waste
by Phil Campbell, Radiation Safety Officer

Improper disposal of liquid radioactive waste

If you have radioactive waste in your UW facility, following the instructions for properly disposing of it helps protect people and the environment from hazards. When packaging dry radioactive waste for disposal, make sure the box does not include liquid radioactive waste.

Most of the radioactive waste at the UW is dry solid waste. Place this type of waste into a cardboard box (LSA box) lined with a plastic bag. When the box is full, pack the box for collection, and record the following information on the box:

  • Radioactive Material label
  • Authorized Investigator’s name
  • Date the box was closed
  • All radioactive isotopes included in the box and the associated activities of each isotope
  • Room number
  • Mailbox number
  • Budget number

EH&S Radiation Safety can provide boxes with the appropriate labels. When the box is properly packaged, request a waste pickup by completing a Waste Collection Request. Radiation Safety will then pick up the waste on the next scheduled waste collection day.

Radiation Safety collects the waste and sends it out for disposal. A box containing radioactive isotopes with a short half-life (<120 days) is held for decay, while a box containing radioactive isotopes with a long half-life is compressed into a 55 gallon drum using a hydraulic compactor. Because the dry waste is compacted, no liquids of any kind should be placed in a dry solid waste box. If liquid is found in a LSA box during processing for compaction, it will be returned to the lab for removal of the liquid. Below are some examples of acceptable and unacceptable materials for dry solid waste disposal:

Acceptable

Unacceptable

  • Paper
  • Gloves
  • Glass
  • Plastics
  • Bench coat
  • Pipet tips
  • Radioactive stickers and labels
  • Uranium and Thorium compounds  
  • Liquids in any form
  • Lead
  • Animal carcasses
  • Putrescible waste
  • Human blood or tissue

If you are unsure if a material can be put into a dry solid waste container, contact Radiation Safety at 206-543-6328.

The EH&S Radiation Safety waste management program processes four main types of radioactive waste:

  • Dry solid waste (LSA-low specific activity)
  • Liquid scintillation counting waste
  • Absorbed liquid waste (for all aqueous liquids)
  • Animal carcasses and putrescible animal waste

More information on packaging and labeling waste can be found on our website. The Radiation Safety Manual has specific guidelines on proper collection, disposal, and packaging of radioactive waste.

 

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