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National Research Council (US) Committee on the Impact of Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Policy on Biomedical Research in the United States. The Impact of Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Policy on Biomedical Research in the United States. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2001.

Cover of The Impact of Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Policy on Biomedical Research in the United States

The Impact of Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Policy on Biomedical Research in the United States.

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6RECOMMENDATIONS

The current situation results in a series of substantial costs to institutions, such costs as those for securing and preparing space for storage-for-decay, maintenance, training, and recordkeeping and the cost entailed in the removal of space from other productive uses. Therefore, biomedical research institutions must provide adequate funds for facility management. It is important to understand that the process of LLRW disposal management policy must make financial sense. Therefore, the committee recommends that institutions engaged in biomedical research carefully assess their LLRW management practices for cost effectiveness. Furthermore, the committee recommends that funding agencies modify their support mechanism for infrastructure costs to pay their fair share of the cost of LLRW management and disposal. Agencies engaged in the support of biomedical research need to take into consideration that the costs of radioactive-waste management, a necessary component of research, have risen sharply in recent years.

The committee is concerned about the ability of the current LLRW management system to adapt to major increases in use of radioactive materials. If use of radioactive materials increases because of the larger national commitment to biomedical research or because of the introduction of new diagnosis and treatment methods, or if the use of longer-half-life radioactive materials increases for any reason, the current system will need to change. Policy makers have been sensitive to the special needs of medical research, as illustrated by the policy exemptions for 3H and 14C. The new challenge of rapidly rising costs will pose a different kind of policy problem. Regulatory and legislative bodies will need to understand the changing economic basis of LLRW disposal policy so that they can modify the system in the event of major new needs. A more thorough analysis of the economics of LLRW management and disposal is recommended.

Institutional efforts to promote the use of appropriate alternatives to radioactive materials for research are useful and should be commended and strongly encouraged. The committee recommends that such agencies as NIH be encouraged to hold conferences or symposia to share information on effective alternatives to radioactive materials for biomedical research.

The regulatory environment for the biomedical research community is complex; any efforts that the regulatory community could make to simplify or streamline the regulatory requirements for managing LLRW without compromising worker or public health and safety would be a benefit.

Copyright © 2001, National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK99252

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