Radioactive Waste

34) What departments and activities on your campus generate radioactive waste and use radioactive substances?
Microbiology, Physics, and Chemistry all generate radioactive waste.  Microbiology and Physics also use radioactive waste.  Radiation is also present on campus due to the X-ray machines that are located at the Student Health Center, and the Anthropology and Physics Departments.  This radiation is not characteristic of waste, but is a radioactive producer.

35) What are the quantities of radioactive substances used and wastes generated on campus annually?
Unsealed quantities of radioactive substances used and waste products are in the Micro Curie range, which is a very small amount.  Typically 10-20 pounds of radioactive waste is generated annually.

36) How has this figure changed over the past five years?
The figure presented above in question #35 should be relatively unchanged, however, it is expected to increase due to a new round of faculty that are more research-oriented and interested in using radioactive material.

37) How and where is radioactive waste disposed of and where does it go?
Radioactive waste that is produced by Chico State is not disposed of annually.  This is due to a number of things.  The small volume of waste, the time limits for waste storage, and in the past there was nowhere for California low-level radioactive waste producers to send their waste.  In 1998, the university did ship radioactive waste that had a long half-life to South Carolina for storage.  This process is generally very expensive.  Chico State does have a storage site for its radioactive waste.  Generally we store short life isotopes, which can be held for 10 half-life’s.  These barrels are inspected every two months with instruments that will detect any leakage. 

38) How much is landfilled? Incinerated?
If the radioactive wastes are shipped, 95% of the time they are landfilled.  Less than 2% is incinerated, and the rest is stored.

39) Does your school have an on-site radioactive-waste incinerator?

40) What were the total radioactive-waste disposal costs for the last academic year?
The total radioactive waste disposal costs for the last academic year was $13,000.  This cost however was for all the radioactive waste that has accumulated over the past 9-10 years. 

41) How have these costs changed over the past five years?
The $13,000 spent last year on radioactive waste disposal covered the past five years. 

42) Has your campus initiated a radioactive-waste reduction program? 
Yes.  “Tightening Up” procedures were implemented in January 1998.  This included better labeling procedures.  If a substance is either mislabeled or not labeled at all it may result in having to treat the substance as radioactive waste.  Clean up methods have also been revised.  To date there are no cost savings from these methods. 


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