Radiological Material Spill
Follow these steps to respond to an intermediate or high-level radioactive spill:
- If hazard is extreme (high radiation level or possibility of air contamination), evacuate the area immediately; close and lock the door.
- Rid victim of contamination: Remove contaminated clothing and wash contaminated parts of the body thoroughly with mild detergent. Bag contaminated items.
- Flush out any wounds with copious amounts of water.
- Warn fellow workers and keep others out of the area.
- Localize area of spill. Turn containers upright that have tipped over and place absorbent material at edges of liquid spills.
- Do not loiter in the area of a dry spill without respiratory protection. Shut off or close ventilating system if possible and turn off fans and blowers on hoods.
- Minimize the spread of contamination. Remove shoes or don shoe covers at the edge of contaminated area when summoning help.
- If contamination is widespread outside the laboratory, it may be necessary to call the University Police 217-333-8911 to assist in establishing traffic control.
- Check all objects and clothing for contamination before leaving adjacent area. This includes clothing, tools, equipment, or other personal effects not worn during the accident.
- Call DRS at 217-333-2755 as soon as possible.
- In all cases, consult the Emergency Call List posted in or near every radiation laboratory.
- Abortive attempts at decontamination can make things much worse. Unless immediate action is demanded to safeguard personnel and equipment, decontamination should be done under the supervision of DRS.
- DRS will determine the procedures and equipment to be used and will render such assistance as necessary.
- All personnel and areas involved must be monitored to assure adequate decontamination before normal work is resumed.
Follow these steps to respond to a low-level radioactive spill:
- Wear appropriate protective clothing to reduce personnel contamination.
- Cordon off the contaminated area. Secure with signs and warning tape, or post staff to prevent anyone from entering the affected area.
- Notify personnel in the area about the contamination.
- Decontaminate from the outside of the spill area towards the center to avoid spreading contamination. Soap and water may be used to clean most surfaces; however, do not roughen the surface because it will make it more difficult to decontaminate. For stubborn contamination, consult the DRS for recommendations for decontamination agents.
- Remove protective clothing when leaving the contaminated area to reduce the spread of the contamination.
- Treat all decontamination equipment and run-off as being contaminated. Decontaminate, or treat as radioactive waste, as appropriate.
- Make a complete record of the decontamination process.
- Monitor the area to ensure thorough decontamination.
Last Update: 9/15/2016