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Managing the Removal of Radioactive Materials Found in Public Locations

[+] Author Affiliations
Andrew Lewcock

Energysolutions EU Services Ltd., Harwell, Oxon, UK

Colette Grundy

Environment Agency, Penrith, Cumbria, UK

Catherine Shaw

Environment Agency, Warrington, Cheshire, UK

Paddy Copeland

Aurora Health Physics Services Ltd., Harwell, Oxon, UK

Duncan Jackson

Enviros Consulting, Harwell, UK

Paper No. ICEM2009-16032, pp. 465-473; 9 pages
  • ASME 2009 12th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management
  • ASME 2009 12th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management, Volume 2
  • Liverpool, UK, October 11–15, 2009
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division and Environmental Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4408-3 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3865-X
  • Copyright © 2009 by ASME


Managing the removal of Radioactive Materials found in public locations. In January 2006 the Environment Agency for England and Wales requested assistance in preparing a project to plan, collect and safely dispose of radium painted aluminium aircraft hatches, discovered in 3 separate business premises in the UK. These World-War Two aircraft hatches had been marked with radium “luminous” paint, to guide crew in the dark to the escape exits if they needed to bale out. The hatches had been stored since the early 1960s in one location, with some of the inventory being moved two other locations in 2003/2004. The North West Region of the Environment Agency appointed a consortium of Enviros, Safeguard International and Aurora Health Physics to undertake the work, and they funded it from the sealed sources disposal budget. The paper will set out how the project was complicated by an assortment of “real world” problems; preliminary estimates of both the activity per hatch and the number of hatches established the potential for a significant quantity of radium to be disposed of safely. The total number of hatches was not known for sure at the start of the work. Access to retrieve the majority of the frames was hazardous due to the poor structural condition of the building roof. Other difficulties included constrained access under a railway line, and bird-related biohazards. The sites involved in the collections were not intended to house radioactive materials, so physical security was another important issue. Some of the hatches were known to be in poor condition, with a very high probability of radium contamination being spread to the surrounding areas. The hatches had to be removed from the sites before the full extent of contamination of other materials could be established. As it was difficult to identify a disposal route in the UK at the time for the estimated inventory, a novel metal recycling option, using a facility in the USA, was proposed as a solution. This was a new approach for dealing with such radioactive materials in the UK. The hatches were successfully recovered, sectioned appropriately and packaged for transport by road and air to the USA for metal recycling in June 2007. Subsequently approximately 0.75 tonnes of other contaminated materials were finally removed from the premises later in the year for authorised waste disposal in the UK.

Copyright © 2009 by ASME



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