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Title: End of Life Decisions for Sealed Radioactive Sources

Sealed radioactive sources are encountered in a wide variety of settings – from household smoke detectors and instrument check sources, through fixed industrial gauges, industrial radiography and well logging sources, to irradiators and medical teletherapy devices. In general, the higher the level of activity in the sealed source, the stricter the regulatory control that is applied to its use, control and ultimate disposition. Lower levels of attention and oversight can and do lead to sources ending up in the wrong place – as orphan sources in uncontrolled storage, disposed in a sanitary landfill, melted down in metal recycling operations and incorporated into consumer products, or handled by an unsuspecting member of the public. There are a range of issues that contribute to the problem of improper disposal of sealed sources, and, in particular, to disused source disposal. General licensed sources and devices are particularly at risk of being disposed incorrectly. Higher activity general licensed sources, although required to be registered with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) or Agreement State, receive limited regulatory oversight and are not tracked on a national scale. Users frequently do not consider the full life-cycle costs when procuring sources or devices and discover that they cannotmore » afford to package, transport and dispose of their sources properly. The NRC requirements for decommissioning funding plans and financial assurance are not adequate to cover sealed source transport and disposal costs fully. While there are regulatory limits for storage of disused sources, enforcement is limited and there is no financial incentive for owners to dispose of the sources. In some cases, the lack of availability of approved Department of Transportation (DOT) Type B shipping casks also presents a barrier to sealed source disposal. The report of the Disused Sources Working Group does an excellent job of framing these issues. This article reviews both the issues and the report’s recommendations, which are designed to improve sealed source control and encourage proper disposal of disused sources.« less
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0017-9078
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Health Physics; Journal Volume: 110; Journal Issue: 2
Health Physics Society
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
Sealed Radioactive Source; disused source; radioactive waste disposal