1.  Radioactive Waste Disposal
2.  Mixed Wastes
3.  Procedures for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste
4.  Incidental Sink Disposal Log

Radioactive Waste Disposal

Radioactive waste is collected and managed by the Environmental Health and Radiation Safety (EHRS) Department.

Radioactive waste must be disposed of in accordance with regulatory requirements and license conditions. Several factors determine the route by which radioactive wastes are disposed. These factors include: half-life, radionuclide, chemical constituents, physical form (liquid or solid), dose rate, etc.

Most wastes that contain radionuclides with half-lives less than or equal to 120 days are disposed of by decay-in-storage.

The holding period for radioactive decay in the EHRS radioactive waste room(s) depends on both the half-life of the radionuclide(s) and the original amount present.

Radioactive waste may be disposed by EHRS as ordinary trash or biohazard waste if radiation surveys (surface readings) of the waste at the end of the holding period indicate that radiation levels are indistinguishable from background with an appropriate radiation detection survey.

Solid radioactive wastes contaminated with radionuclides with half-lives greater than 120 days are disposed of through a contracted radioactive waste disposal service broker.

The following radioactive wastes may be disposed of as non-radioactive waste (deregulated waste) by the EHRS Department:

Certain liquid radioactive wastes (regulated waste) may be disposed of by EHRS into the sanitary sewer system. Liquid radioactive waste is collected by EHRS for disposal into a designated sink. Radioactive liquid waste is prohibited from being disposed of into laboratory sinks. (See Information on Incidental Sink Disposal)

Mixed wastes are radioactive wastes which also contain hazardous waste components regulated under the EPA, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and the State of Pa. Regulations. Currently, there are very few options for the disposal of mixed wastes, and the options which do exist are very costly.

The EHRS Department is available to help determine whether specific wastes meet the definition of mixed wastes. Contact the EHRS Department before generating mixed wastes to allow time to determine disposal options or to establish procedures which may prevent a mixed waste from being generated. Unfortunately, due to the high cost for the disposal of mixed wastes, the cost will need to be paid by the researcher generating the waste.

Procedures for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste

No research is presently approved which may generate the following waste categories:

Radioactive animal carcasses >0.05 uCi/gm averaged over the weight of the entire animal;
Scintillation vials containing >0.05 uCi/ml of C-14 or H-3;
Scintillation vials containing radionuclides not approved for decay-in-storage.

Incidental Sink Disposal Log

Although radioactive liquid wastes are prohibited from being disposed of into the drains in the individual laboratories, incidental amounts of radioactive wash water is allowed if the activity is less than or equal to 0.1 uCi.

However, this washwater must be recorded on an Incidental Sink Disposal Log.  The form should be posted near your designated and demarcated radioactive sink.  

If activity is greater than 0.1 uCi, collect the 1st rinsate into a liquid waste container prior to any subsequent washwater being disposed into the drain.

(See Information on Chemical Waste Disposal)

(See Information on Biohazardous Waste Disposal)


University of the Sciences in Philadelphia • 600 South Forty-third Street • Philadelphia, PA 19104-4495 • phone: 215-596-8800 • email: safety@usp.edu