Western Arctic Shelf-Basin Interactions (SBI) Project
Handling Radioactive Material
Radioactive materials are occasionally brought shipboard by scientists for use in their research. The primary hazards of radioactive materials are those of the harmful biological effects brought on by exposure to ionizing radiation; although, some isotopes are also toxic by ingestion when found in concentrations greater than normally used shipboard. Radioactive materials typically found onboard when properly used and handled present no danger to the scientist or crew. To ensure this is the case the scientist and crew must follow prescribed protocols and procedures including: monitoring, clean-up, and record-keeping.
The use, storage, transportation, labeling, and disposal of radioactive material brought shipboard is regulated through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) using 10 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) as the regulatory basis and 49 CFR (Transportation). (The CFR's are available at no cost on the internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/index.html.) The activity and quantity of radioactive material used by the scientist are controlled by license issued to the operating institution for whom the scientist works and is called the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Byproduct Material License or equivalent.
II. Radioactive Materials Management
The guiding protocols for proper radioactive materials management shipboard are three folds:
· Obtaining Coast Guard approval to handle isotopes shipboard
· Following accepted radiological work practices
· Detailed record-keeping
The first protocol (Coast Guard approval) is accomplished early on in the planning process for investigative work using radioisotopes at sea. The scientist will receive in the Welcome Aboard Packet sent by the ice breaker various forms required to be filled out and returned by the scientist to the ice breaker prior to reporting shipboard. The Coast Guard icebreaker involved will notify the scientist of approval to use radioisotopes only after review of the completed application forms. The institution's Radioisotope Users Committee (or equivalent) will review and approve the proposed research and the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) will authorize possession and use of the desired radioisotope. Both approvals are required prior to performing work involving radioisotopes onboard Coast Guard cutters and shall be presented with the above forms. Prior to the scientist reporting shipboard and prior to the Coast Guard accepting any supplies involved in the investigative work, the cutter (icebreaker) shall have received the following:
1. Copies of written approval from the sponsoring institution's User Committee and the RSO for the work and radioisotopes in question.
2. Completion of the following forms found in the Welcome Aboard Packet:
· Form A6 Application for Authorization to Use Radioactive Material on WAGB-XX
· Form A7 Training and Experience in Radiation Work
The second protocol (work practices) shall be the radiological work practices enforced at the authorizing institution and approved by the RSO. The scientist will be responsible for adapting the work practices established at the authorizing institution to the shipboard work areas. The scientist will provide and post all required radiological signs, provide all containments and/or anti-contamination clothing, do monitoring, clean-up of any spills, maintain dosimetry/dosimetry records, and perform final clean-up and survey of the work space for "free release" of the work space. All laboratory work involving radioactive material shall be conducted in the science van. Any in-situ/experimental work outside the van involving radioactive material shall only be conducted in areas approved by the Marine Science Officer. Note: the Coast Guard will not provide any monitoring or survey equipment; the scientist will bring all emitter appropriate equipment shipboard and remove the equipment at the end of the voyage. Coast Guard personnel are not trained or authorized to handle radioactive material and shall not assist the scientist in ways that risk isotope radiation exposure. Once the scientist is shipboard and familiar with the work area, he/she shall brief the Marine Science Officer (or designated representative) on the required radiological work practices and how radioisotopes are involved in his/her work. Upon arriving shipboard the scientist shall provide the Marine Science Officer the following:
1. A description of experimental/investigative protocol. This should include the proposed location of work where radioisotopes might be used, procedures for storage, manipulation, isolation, control, and containment, clean-up of spills and disposal of the radioactive material.
The following equipment is required for out-of-laboratory incubation experiments:
1. In-situ incubation shall utilize polycarbonate jars with polyethylene caps or equivalent.
2. On-deck incubation requires as a minimum for spill recovery a 55 gallon, 49 CFR approved liquid non-bulk hazardous material container and three five gallon cubit containers or equivalent equipment as agreed to by the sponsoring institution's RSO. The 55-gallon container shall contain sorbant material.
The third protocol (record-keeping) shall be at a level of detail to prevent the loss of control of radioactive material and prevent the inadvertent spread of radioactive contamination. This shall include documentation of any spills and clean-up actions. The scientist must review and implement the record-keeping requirements of Form A11 Radioactive Materials Report found in the ship's Welcome Aboard Packet. The scientist shall provide the Coast Guard with the following prior to departing from the vessel after completion of the investigative work:
1. Radioisotope inventory documenting disposition of all quantities of the isotopes used in the investigative work; including a reconciliation of the quantity brought on board and removed from the ship as either waste, unused material, or samples. (See Form A11.)
2. Documentation of surveys performed in the workspace; as a minimum initial (prior to isotope use) and final ("free release") workspace surveys shall be performed. (Attach to Form A11.)
III. Rules For Radioactive Material Disposal
Radioactive material considered waste shall not be discharged at sea but retained in containers for disposition by the authorizing institution. Drain disposal is prohibited. It is the responsibility of the scientist to arrange for the proper shore side disposal of all forms of any radioisotopes remaining onboard at the completion of the voyage.