On-Campus Radiological Emergencies



In view of the complicating factors that may arise in an emergency, it is impossible to establish simple rules to cover all situations of a radiation emergency. However most emergencies will probably be of the following types:

  • Explosion in or near radioactive material (RAM) use area
  • Fire in or near RAM use area
  • Overexposure of radiation to personnel
  • Injury to personnel involving RAM
  • Loss of a radioactive material
  • Vehicular accident during transport of RAM

In all of the above examples, the primary concern must always be the protection of personnel from radiation hazards. Confinement of any possible contamination or resultant radiation to the immediate environment of the accident should be a secondary concern.

Emergency Procedures – General

  • Notify all persons in the lab of the incident.
  • Instruct everyone not involved with the incident to stay away from the immediate area, but not to leave the lab, (unless the situation presents an immediate threat to safety or health, such as a fire or toxic atmosphere.). This is to prevent the spread of any potential radiological contamination.
  • Notify Campus Safety at Ext. 2222.  Calmly describe the situation.  Campus Safety will request assistance from the New London Fire Department in the event of fire or explosion.
  • Notify the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) at Ext. 2135, and the Director of Environmental Health & Safety at Ext. 2252.
  • Any incident notification to the NRC and State Department of Health required by regulation will be made by the RSO and the President of the College within the required time following the incident.

 Fire or Explosion

  • Pull the alarm to evacuate the building.
  • Attempt to extinguish any fires if a radiation hazard is not immediately present. Do not attempt to fight a fire unless it can be done safely, with an escape route available.
  • Efforts should be made to prevent water or fire fighting chemicals from coming in contact with the radiation source.
  • Attempt to control runoff, preventing it from entering drainage systems until it has been monitored.

RAM Spills/Contamination of Laboratory Personnel

  • Instruct everyone not involved with the spill to stay away from the immediate area, but not to leave the lab. Moving around only spreads the contamination, increasing the need for large scale clean up.
  • Remove contaminated clothing or Lab Coat.
  • If the skin is contaminated, you should go to the lab sink and wash the area with warm water. Using soap and a gentle scrubbing motion, wash the contaminated skin under tepid running water.  DO NOT scrub vigorously, as it may abrade the skin, allowing radioactivity to enter the body.
  • Pat the skin dry. Scan the affected area with a GM survey meter, if appropriate for the isotope.  For  H-3, run wipe samples through the Liquid Scintillator Counter (LSC).
  • Repeat this process until the area of the skin contamination is at background, but no more than 3 times.  You must not redden or break the skin by scrubbing too hard. 
  • Check to make sure that no one else in the lab has been contaminated.

Radiation Overexposure

  • In the event of a suspected or confirmed overexposure, seek prompt medical assistance. The appropriate medical radiation specialists will be consulted.
  • Ensure that the RSO is immediately notified, so that proper reporting to the Connecticut Department of Health and NRC can be made.
  • Any overexposure will be investigated by the RSO, utilizing guidelines set forth in the Radiation Use Program, Policy and Procedures Manual.
  • As required by NRC regulation, a notification letter will be sent to the affected individual(s), informing them of the exposure.