Ohio University

Radioactive Waste

Two women in a lab


Radioactive waste pick-up should be coordinated with Alan Watts, by email, or by calling (740) 593-4176. (Radioactive Waste Form [Excel])

The following guidelines are to be used for the safe handling and disposal of Low-Level Radioactive Waste at Ohio University. For chemical waste click here. No Biohazard or Asbestos Waste will be handled by this procedure. Consult the Biosafety Manual [PDF] and the Asbestos Manual [PDF].


The responsibility for radioactive waste identification, labeling, and packaging rests with the principal investigator or area supervisor. The principal investigator or area supervisor should follow all of the procedures in the guidelines and provide proper instruction to personnel under their supervision. All radioactive material users must receive a license from Risk Management and Safety (RMS) and participate in a radiation orientation and pass a test. See the Radiation Safety Handbook.

When ordering radioactive material, minimize volumes by purchasing the smallest quantity of material as possible with a preferred half-life of less than 120 days (acceptable to decay instead of ship off-site). Radioactive material should be dated when received in a permanent and legible fashion. This procedure will aid in evaluating the hazard when a particular radioisotope becomes waste. Please don't buy or accept surplus radioactive material, it can be an administrative and expensive nightmare. Surplus radioactive materials tend to end in the radioactive waste stream at a later date.

Storage of Radioactive Waste

  1. Radioactive waste should always be segregated according to its half-life and form (solid, liquid, gas, animal).
  2. Excess or outdated radioactive waste should not be allowed to accumulate in any location to a point that would create an unsafe working environment for laboratory personnel.
  3. Inventories of all radioactive waste in each laboratory should be conducted every six months. Check for damaged labels, outdated radioactive material, damaged containers, and peroxide forming compounds.
  4. Do not overfill packing containers. Containers must be in a state that makes it easy for one person to lift and to remove with a two-wheel cart.
  5. Only mix radioactive material of similar half-life (within 7 days) and compatible constituents.
  6. Segregate and store radioactive waste in the laboratory where generated for pick up according to radioisotope, hazard class and compatibility.

3.0 Radioactive Waste Disposal

Keep in mind, a radioactive material falls under the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) waste jurisdiction as soon as it is decided the radioactive material is no longer wanted. At that point, liquid waste in any container must be labeled as radioactive waste and dated. The container must be in a secondary container such as a plastic tub until prepared for pickup. In most cases, liquid radioactive waste is aqueous or dispersible and can be disposed of via the sanitary sewer in accordance with the Radiation Safety Handbook. Solid waste must be placed in heavy duty doubled plastic bags and must be labeled as radioactive waste and dated. If inspected by ODH, remember the words stated can make the difference between costly fines and the agency having no authority over the substance.

Each container must be identified by a properly completed RADIATION WASTE label provided by Risk Management and Safety. Note that each label is pre-numbered. The label will be placed on each individual container of liquid radioactive waste and the number is to be duplicated on the small side and top of the exterior of the container box for liquid waste. The label will be placed directly on the outside of the doubled, strong-type plastic bag for solid waste

Packaging filled containers in boxes- Individual containers of liquid radioactive waste must be packaged in an outer container. This may be accomplished by an individual box or several containers may be placed in a larger box. The final product must be of reasonable weight, size and integrity for an individual to carry and must be suitable for stacking. Therefore no bottle can be taller than the box is deep and boxes must have lids. The chemicals will be removed with a two wheel cart and packaging must be suitable to remove with this vehicle.

Wastes which have the potential to react with each other should not be packaged within the same box. (see incompatible chemicals).

Shock and liquid absorbent material must be placed around the containers. Vermiculite serves both purposes. The fine dust generated when using vermiculite is an inhalation hazard. Therefore, vermiculite should not be used unless wearing a dust mask. Some vermiculite is treated so it will not absorb liquids. This type is used as an insulation material. So, beware of what you are using. Vermiculite and boxes are recycled by the chemical storekeeper at Clippinger Laboratories (this is very much appreciated) and normally can be obtained from the storeroom free of charge. Call 593-1743.


  1. The label numbers are extremely important. The number will be entered into the computer as the identification of the container. The number must be entered where shown in the diagram. The same number will also be entered on the Radioactive Waste Disposal Request Form as the label number. Normally there will be one number per request form. The only exception is if containers and contents are identical in all respects. The number should be marked on the box with a black marker.
  2. All box openings must be taped shut. This is to prevent fine particles of vermiculite from filling the air and falling onto the floor as the chemicals are being transported.
  3. The box must be filled with vermiculite to prevent breakage and to absorb spillage in case breakage does occur. It is recommended that enough absorbent be provided to absorb the volume of liquid.

The following procedures are to be used when disposing of radioactive waste. Every person requesting a radioactive waste pick up must complete a Radioactive Waste Disposal Form [Excel]. This form will provide information on the radioactive waste during storage. (Note: the form prints out fine regardless of appearance).

When the packaging is finished, complete a Radioactive Waste Disposal Form [Excel] and send it toRisk Management and Safety, University Service Ctr. attention Alan Watts, fax to 3-0808, or email to radwaste@ohio.edu. If you have questions contact Alan at 593-4176.


  1. Labels for organic solvents should be obtained prior to starting a mixed solvent container.
  2. Use 2.5 gallon Nalgene Containers for storage of mixed solvent waste if available. A secondary containment system is required. Any liquid waste container must be in a secondary container such as a plastic tub. A visual aid for packaging liquid waste is shown above.
  3. List the isotope, name and volume of each solvent on the label at the time of addition.
  4. Do not overfill containers
  5. Do not combine incompatible mixtures.
  6. Segregate and store radioactive waste in the laboratory where generated for pick up according to isotope, hazard class and compatibility.
  7. When the container is full, complete a radioactive waste disposal form [Excel] and send it to Risk Management and Safety, University Service Ctr. attention Alan Watts, fax to 3-0808, or email to safety@ohio.edu.

Questions regarding the chemical waste program should be addressed to David Schleter or call (740) 593-1662.