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Disposal of Metals

Because upcoming decommissioning projects are expected to produce sizeable quantities of scrap metals, the Environment, Safety and Health Division and Salvage/Warehouse Services would like to remind everyone of the Department of Energy restrictions on the release of scrap metals off site for disposal or recycling. 

In 2000, then Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson announced two formal restrictions on metal‑containing wastes at all DOE facilities. The first is a moratorium restricting any conditional release of slightly-radioactive metals. In short, any metals that are radioactive must be kept on site. The second directive is a suspension on unrestricted releases of any metals that have been inside a Radiological Area. Any metals that have been in a Radiological Area on or since July 13, 2000, must be held on site, even if they are not radioactive. Radiological Areas include Radiation Areas, High Radiation Areas, and Contamination Areas.

SLAC Environment, Safety and Health refers to the scrap metals affected by the second DOE directive (the suspension) as "Hold Materials," non‑radioactive metals and metal-containing materials or equipment that are or have been located in an accelerator housing or inside a Radiological Area.

Of the two restrictions, the second more directly affects the SLAC workforce on a daily basis. To uphold it, SLAC instituted a policy requiring that, prior to transfer to Salvage/Warehouse Services, every item be surveyed by the Radiation Protection Department Field Operations group to ascertain that the item is free of radioactivity and that items containing any metal were not in a Radiological Area on or after July 13, 2000. If the item passes both of these conditions, then Salvage/Warehouse Services is able to release it off site for recycling or other disposal. Otherwise, if the item passes the first condition but fails the second condition, it is considered to be a "Hold Material" and will be retained on site for later resolution with DOE approval.

In May 2008, the SLAC Salvage Form was revised to permit the direct transport of certain office materials and equipment that have not been in Radiological Areas to Salvage/Warehouse Services without a radiological survey. (The SLAC Salvage Form is still required.) These items include:

  • Furniture, including empty desks, chairs, empty file cabinets and bookcases

  • Computer equipment

  • Paper and office products, such as books, folders/binders and bulletin boards

  • Office partitions

All scrap metals must go to Salvage/Warehouse Services, and never into trash cans or dumpsters. All materials that have been in an accelerator housing during beam operations require a radiological survey prior to removal from the accelerator housing.

To arrange material evaluation, contact the Radiation Protection Department Field Operations group, or RPFO (x4299). Working with RPFO, you will complete the SLAC Salvage Form. You will be asked to provide the status and history of the material while it was here at SLAC. All materials received by Salvage/Warehouse Services require a completed SLAC Salvage Form. More information about Salvage/Warehouse Services will be published in the future.

In order for SLAC to comply with the DOE scrap metals suspension, it is critical that the SLAC Salvage Form be filled out accurately.  In particular, Section 5 "History of use" must be complete and correct to the best of your knowledge in order for SLAC to determine whether any scrap metals are "Hold Materials."

—Amanda Sabourov, Radiological Environmental Protection Program Manager
SLAC Today, August 18, 2008