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Subject: Disposal of radioactive material

Disposal of radioactive material

From: Barry Knight <barry.knight<-a>
Date: Thursday, September 29, 2005
Nine years ago, in Instance 10:29 (September 20, 1996), I drew
attention to the problem of radioactive sources in museum items, and
the difficulty of disposing of them once they have been recognised.
I have recently heard that the UK government has set up a subsidised
programme to collect and dispose of surplus radioactive sources,
which will run until March 2007.  Many museums may be unaware that
they own radioactive sources, and of the bureaucratic requirements
to hold them legally.  It may be easier and cheaper to de-accession
such items rather than comply with the safety regulations relating
to radioactive sources.

Items that may be classed as radioactive sources include watches,
compasses and instrument dials with radium-containing luminous
paint. Such items might be found in social history, military,
industrial or science collections.  Anything that glows in the dark
without being light-activated should be examined.  Note also that
sometimes the crystal structure of the luminous compound may have
been completely destroyed by the intense radiation so that it no
longer glows, but appears a dull reddish orange.

If you believe you have radioactive items in your collections you
should contact a certified Radiation Protection Advisor, such as
(but not limited to) the National Radiation Protection Board, who
will advise you on what steps to take.  Information about the
disposal programme can be obtained from:
sourceenquiries<-a t->environment-agency< . >gov< . >uk

Dr Barry Knight
Head of Conservation Research
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB
+44 20 7412 7229
Fax: +44 20 7412 7658

                  Conservation DistList Instance 19:17
                 Distributed: Thursday, October 6, 2005
                       Message Id: cdl-19-17-001
Received on Thursday, 29 September, 2005

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