Mixed Waste





Most mixed wastes consist of low level radioactive wastes combined with hazardous materials. This presents several challenges because each type of waste is regulated by a different agency, with different laws. One challenging aspect of mixed waste is that radioactive waste is regulated by the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) and hazardous materials are regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). That means that both the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency are involved. RCRA specifically excludes from its definition of solid waste, "source, special nuclear, or byproduct material as defined by the AEA". Trying to properly handle materials that are subject to two sets of regulations is difficult and often very costly.

Most low-level mixed wastes consist of low level radioactive wastes combined with hazardous materials in the same matrix. This presents several challenges because each type of waste is regulated by a different agency, with different rules and applicable laws.

The following are the "Official Definitions" for Low Level Radioactive Waste and Hazardous Waste:

Low Level Waste (LLW)(Radioactive)

LLW is defined in 10 CFR 61.2 (Code of Federal Regulations) as "radioactive waste not classified as high-level radioactive waste, transuranic waste, spent nuclear fuel, or byproduct material as defined in section 11e.(2) of the Atomic Energy Act"

Hazardous Waste

This type of waste is either listed as a hazardous waste in Subpart D of 40 CFR Part 261.31-33 or which exhibits any of the hazardous waste characteristics identified in Subpart C of 40 CFR Part 261.20-24 (ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, toxicity).

Much of the information presented here is taken from a pamphlet published by the EPA entitled "Low-Level Mixed Waste, A RCRA Perspective for NRC Licensees", Dated August, 1990.

Top


Exceptions to the production of mixed waste includes Liquid Scintillation Fluids which can be legally shipped to a contract waste disposal vendor to be burned, and radioactive materials mixed with a hazardous component that can be neutralized or deactivated in the laboratory.

Top

The Radiation Safety Office will not approve the purchase of radioactive materials that are labeled to or mixed with a hazardous component unless it can be shown that the hazardous component is neutralized during use.

The concern of the University of Washington Radiation Safety Committee is that mixed materials will eventually end up as mixed waste. This costs departments a lot of time and money.

If you believe you may be ordering or generating mixed waste contact Radiation Safety at radsaf@u.washington.edu or 206.543.0463 prior to beginning your work.

Top