Office of Research

IV. Specific Disposal Procedures

Radiation Safety personnel will remove radioactive waste from the laboratories.  The transfer of the waste from the authorized user to the Radiation Safety Office will be documented on a "radioactive waste disposal form" (see attachments).  For waste pickup call 656-7165, or fax a request to 656-1804.

A.        Dry Active Waste (DAW)

1.         This waste classification is made up of normal laboratory waste, such as, paper, plastic, absorbent coverings, towels, empty test tubes and syringes, culture dishes and other glassware.  DAW may contain no freestanding liquids.

2.         Items Prohibited in DAW

a.         Liquid in vials, syringes, etc.

b.         Hazardous/infectious/reactive materials

c.         Biological tissues or products in quantities sufficient to produce an odor problem

d.         Sealed/encapsulated radioactive sources

3.         Packaging

a.         Dry radioactive wastes will be placed in standardized radioactive labeled waste cans that are lined with thick poly bags.  Waste cans, bags, and labels are obtained from the Radiation Safety Office.  The use of office-style waste cans is specifically prohibited.

b.         Syringes, needles, and pipettes should be placed in separate puncture proof containers before being placed in the waste can.  This will prevent puncture of the plastic bag and minimize the possibility of injury to personnel handling the waste.

(1)       Broken glassware should be wrapped in heavy paper or cardboard and taped before being discharged into waste cans.

c.         Do not over-fill the bag.  Leave sufficient room so that the bag top can be twisted and sealed with duct tape.  Double bagging when the waste is picked up may be necessary to insure package integrity.


B.        Liquid Scintillation Waste (Organic)

Waste liquids may be organic or aqueous based and further may be regulated or deregulated.  The classification deregulated or regulated applies only to Radiation Safety Personnel and to the final disposal of the waste. 

In all respects the generator of the waste shall handle all waste liquids containing any radioactive isotope(s) in any concentrations as fully regulated in the sense that all waste liquids shall be stored and labeled as radioactive material or waste. 

All liquid radioactive waste that is organic based will be collected and transported to the Radiation Safety Facility and processed for off site disposal.

1.         There are two classes of waste scintillation fluid whether in vials or packaged as bulk liquid.

a.         De-regulated Scintillation Fluid/Vials

Only liquid scintillation fluid and/or vials that have contained scintillation fluid with a activity of < 0. 05 mCi / ml of C-14 and/or H-3 are considered deregulated.  This classification is a deminimus level and applies only to the isotopes C-14 and/or H-3.

b.         Regulated Liquid Scintillation Fluid / Vials

Waste fluids containing isotopes containing concentrations of H-3 and/or C-14 > 0 05 mCi/ml or waste fluids containing isotopes other than C-14 or H-3 in any concentration are considered regulated.

1.       Regulated organic based waste scintillation fluids will be handled and disposed of as "mixed waste" (waste that is considered both hazardous and radioactive).  Please contact the R.S.O. prior to initiating work that may produce waste in this category.

            a.         Keep regulated and deregulated classes of liquid scintillation waste separated.  If you have any questions concerning the disposal of scintillation fluid or mixed waste, please call the Radiation Safety Officer before initiating the use of these compounds.


2.         Packaging

Waste liquid scintillation fluid may be packaged in individual counting vials or in bulk containers.

a.         Scintillation Vials

Leave the waste scintillation fluid in their vials, tightly capped, and place them in a separate, standardized, labeled waste can.  The can will be lined with a thick poly bags.  Do not place absorbent material inside the bag containing the waste vials.  If leakage of the fluid from the inner bag is a problem, the can will be double lined and absorbent material placed inside the first bag. 

(1)       Vials will also be accepted upright in their original shipping trays.

                        (2)       Do not put other types of waste in the liquid scintillation waste can.  Items such as rubber gloves, vials containing high-activity stock solutions, and vials with volumes greater than 50 ml are prohibited. 

(3)       The re-use of scintillation vials is discouraged due to the possibility of contamination of the user.  If done, however, the contents may be emptied into a carboy and treated as bulk liquid.

(4)       Liquid scintillation vials containing organic solvents may not be emptied into the sewer. 


C.        Aqueous Waste

The University is authorized by S.C. DHEC to dispose of a limited quantity of radioactive material in aqueous solution by discharge into the University's sanitary sewer system.  Only aqueous based solutions, such as biodegradable scintillation fluids, may be discharged into the sanitary sewer system.  All waste disposed of by release into the sewer system will be readily soluble in water and meet all of the requirements of S.C. DHEC Title A Regulation 61-63 RHA 3.29.

1. If the Authorized Investigator has not requested and been issued a “dump quota” for authorization they may not dispose of radioactive waste be release into the sanitary sewer system.  Other than washing of glassware, waste liquids will be presented to radiation safety personnel for disposal.

a.         Sewer Disposal of Aqueous Waste

A sink in each licensee's laboratory will be designated as a "Radioactive Waste Sink".  Do not use a sink for disposal of radioactive waste or for decontamination of laboratory apparatus unless it is so designated.

b.         Liquid waste may be discharged into the sanitary sewer if the material is readily soluble (or is readily dispersible biological material) if it is aqueous based and contains no hazardous chemical waste constituents. Disposal should be accompanied by ample flushing with tap water.

c.         The sewage system should not be used as a primary disposal route.  Amounts and concentrations disposed of should be "as low as practicable".

d.         Records of sewer disposal must be maintained on the Monthly and Yearly Aqueous Dump Record (see attachments).  A copy of the yearly dump record must be sent to the Radiation Safety Office at the end of each calendar year.

2.         If for any reason aqueous waste cannot be dumped into a designated drain at the authorized place of use, the waste will be transported to the Radiation Safety Facility and will be dumped into the facility’s sump.  This designated sump drains to the sewage treatment’s 161,000-gallon main receiver tank, where raw sewage is first introduced into the treatment process.  Daily dilution flow is approximately 850,000 gal / day. 

a.         Disposal of liquid waste occurring at the Radioactive Waste Facility will be documented on the "monthly and yearly dump record" against the quota assigned to the Authorized Investigator who generated the waste.

(1)       If aqueous waste is transferred to the Radioactive Waste Facility, the liquid waste will be tracked and documented on the Radioactive Waste Disposal Form as bulk aqueous waste.


D.        Bulk Liquids

Small containers with more than 50 ml of liquid and uncapped or loosely capped containers (e.g., test tubes with parafilm covers or corks) must be decanted into a bulk liquid container.

1.         Bulk Packaging

a.         Nalgene carboys are provided by the Radiation Safety Office for collection of waste bulk liquids.  These containers are compatible with most organic solvents.

b.         The container must be sealed tightly with a cap designed for the container (Parafilm may not be used for this purpose).


E.         Other Liquids

1.         Stock solutions / high activity liquids:

a.         High activity waste solutions (activities > 0.05 µCi/ml) must be presented for disposal separately.


F.         Biological Waste

This includes carcasses, excreta, organs, blood and bloody rags, and tissue samples in amounts sufficient to produce an odor problem.

  1.         Packaging

 Radioactive waste containing infectious agents shall not be released from the laboratory unless the waste has been autoclaved or otherwise deactivated.  Please do not initiate the production of biological waste until you have discussed your procedure with the R.S.O.

a.         Radioactive biological waste will be place in a heavy yellow radioactive waste bags making sure that the bag is not punctured.  Liquid must not be able to leak out.  The waste will be double bagged and absorbent will be used as necessary. 

b.         Blood should be packaged in a strong plastic container.  Thin plastic containers such as empty milk jugs are not adequate for this purpose.

c.         Animal carcasses containing long-lived nuclides and/or concentrations of H-3 or C-14 greater than 0.05 mCi/ml will be packaged in double walled metal drums. The inner drum will be double lined with thick poly bags.  The animal will be packaged with a combination of lime and absorbent.

d.         Animal carcasses with concentrations of < 0.05 µCi / gram of H-3 and/or C-14 may be disposed of without regard to radioactivity.  The activity of the waste and its final disposition will be coordinated and documented by the Radiation Safety Office.

  2.         Decay of animal carcasses contaminated with short-lived isotopes  (< 65 days).

  a.         Animal carcasses contaminated with short-lived isotopes may be held for decay by the Radiation Safety Office.  The contaminated carcasses will be stored in a freezer dedicated for the purpose and posted as a Radioactive Materials Storage area.

  b.         Contaminated carcasses will be held for ten half- lives and surveyed to ensure that there is no activity detectable above background prior to final disposal.

  c.         If the radioactive biohazardous waste meets release criteria, it will be disposed of as biological waste by a licensed biohazard waste disposal contractor.


G.        Mixed Waste

A mixed waste is a waste that is radioactive and also contains hazardous material.  Mixed waste presents special problems in handling, storing, and final disposition.  It is important that University personnel contact the R.S.O. prior to initiating work that will produce mixed waste.

  1.         A material is considered Hazardous if it meets any of the following criteria:

  a.         Specifically listed in the law, 29 CFR part 1910, Subpart Z, Toxic and Hazardous Substances (the Z list).

  b.         If the waste substance is listed in E.P.A. Code of Federal Regulations Title 40, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

  c.         Assigned a threshold limit value (TLV) by the American Conference of governmental Industrial Hygienists, ACGIH).

d.         Is determined to be cancer causing, an irritant, a sensitizer, or has damaging effects on specific body organs.

  e.         If the substance has any of the following characteristics:

  (1)       Ignitability

(2)       Corrosivity (pH <2 or >12)

(3)       Reactivity

(4)       Toxicity


2.         Disposal procedures employed in the Rad Waste Processing Facility involve crushing, compacting, and consolidation of liquids.  These procedures may not be compatible with the presents of some hazardous substances.

  a.        Mixed wastes are not acceptable for disposal at permanent radioactive waste repositories.

  3.         Please consult the R.S.O. before initiating research that is lightly to produce mixed waste.  It is more expensive to dispose of mixed waste and some types of mixed waste are not currently accepted for disposal at all.


H.        Improperly Packaged Waste

 Radiation safety personnel may refuse to accept any waste that is improperly packaged.  It will be the licensee's responsibility to re-package the waste.


I.          Short Lived Waste (< 65 day half-life)

  1.         Short-lived wastes are segregated and stored according to isotope for a period of not less than 10 half-lives.

  2.         After the waste has decayed for 10 half-lives, it is surveyed to confirm that it meets unrestricted area release limits.  If the wastes meet clean release limits it is shredded to reduce waste volume and to destroy all radioactive material labeling.

  3.         After shredding, the waste is bagged and disposed at the regional class-D landfill as normal solid waste.


J.         Waste Disposal Records

 Disposal of all waste will be accounted for on the “Radioactive Waste Disposal Form” which is signed by the Authorized Investigator or his/her qualified designee.  This is a legal requirement of our radioactive materials license.  The completed form should agree with your isotope inventory.

1.         Records documenting the transfer, processing, storage, and final disposal of radioactive wastes will be retained for a period of no less than five years form the disposal date or until authorized by the BRH.

  a.         Each container of waste will be given a serialized number by the Radiation Safety Office and tracked according the Approved User who generated the waste, by isotope, activity, date of collection, and storage location.

  b.         Each container of waste will bear the following information:

  (1)       Rad waste accountability number

(2)       Description of the material (waste classification)

(3)       Surface contamination level of primary container

(4)       Surface dose rate

(5)       Nuclide and curie content

(6)       Approved users name and/or number

(7)       Signature and date