What to do if an ‘orphan’ does show up at you door

Jan 01, 2009 | 11:28 AM |

As history has shown, abandoned radioactive scrap can wreak havoc on operations if it makes its way into the mainstream. And while proper disposal of contaminated sources still occurs, various programs have been established to make the problem a little easier to deal with.

Some 105 orphan radioactive sources—defined by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as "a sealed source of radioactive material contained in a small volume, but not radioactively contaminated soils and bulk metals"—have been melted in steel or ironmaking furnaces since the metals industry and government regulators began tracking such incidents two decades ago.

One instance where such devices become a problem is when they are improperly disposed of as scrap metal and taken to metal recyclers, according to the NRC. Other problem sources include radioactive materials used in gauges that are discarded along highways or waterways, and the sealed sources used in oil and gas exploration. Oilfield gauges can contain radioactive materials that exceed the limits for disposal at commercial low-level radioactive waste disposal facilities, the NRC said.....





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