Radioactive waste and discharges

Unsealed radioactive sources are used, for example, as tracers or radiopharmaceuticals in health care, research and industry. The handling of unsealed radioactive sources often produces waste containing radioactive substances. The radioactive waste generated must be handled and recorded appropriately.

The use of unsealed radioactive sources in health care, research or industry may generate waste containing radioactivity. The use of unsealed radioactive sources requires a safety licence for the use of radiation. Unsealed radioactive sources include, for example, radiopharmaceuticals and tracers. Packaging of radioactive waste must be marked with a warning label of ionizing radiation. In addition, the packaging must indicate information about the radionuclides, activity or activity concentration, date of detection of the activity or activity concentration, origin of the waste package and physical or chemical state of the waste or other information necessary for the safe handling of the waste. The undertaking´s waste records must contain corresponding information on radioactive waste.

When the activity of waste generated in the use of unsealed sources is below the exemption levels, it is not considered radioactive waste. The waste may be handed over for recovery by incineration or disposal as referred to in the Waste Act. In this case, the activity in one waste package may not exceed the exemption value, and the activity of waste delivered from one place of use of radiation during a month may not exceed 10 times the exemption value. In the case of a mixture of several radionuclides, the exemption values are taken into account on a nuclide-by-nuclide basis.

Discharges to the environment and sewage system from unsealed sources must be kept to a minimum. The amount of the discharge may not exceed the limit value for a minor discharge. Discharge records must be kept specifying the total quantity and the temporal variation of the discharge by nuclide in such a way that compliance with the discharge limit values can be demonstrated.