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Health Phys. 2002 May;82(5 Suppl):S108-10.

Radioactive waste minimization at a large academic medical facility.

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  • 1University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Radiation Safety Program, 77555-0633, USA.


The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston is a large academic medical center with about 12,700 employees, 350 radioisotope research labs and 200 permitted radioactive materials users. Consequently, UTMB generates a fairly large amount of radioactive waste. The majority of this waste contains short-lived radionuclides, such as 32P, 33P, and 35S, which are held for decay and then disposed at a sanitary landfill. However, some waste, including long-lived waste and stock vials, is compacted into drums and stored in a warehouse facility, on-site, until disposal at a low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) facility. Space in the warehouse is limited but disposal is currently cost prohibitive. A reevaluation of our program was conducted to see if volumes of LLRW requiring disposal at a commercial LLRW facility could be reduced. A reevaluation of the waste streams resulted in the shifting of most of the material that was being drummed for shipment to a LLRW facility to disposal by landfill or incineration. Materials that were previously assumed to be radioactive are now being evaluated prior to disposal to determine if they may be disposed of as non-radioactive waste. Following the initial evaluation, the amount of compacted dry solids assumed to contain long-lived radionuclides was reduced. The space that was saved due to the decrease in drumming for disposal is now used to hold the increased volume of decay-in-storage material. The monetary savings will amount to about $45,000 per year. This program is currently being expanded to reduce other waste streams at the university.

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