Radioactive Spill


Notes & Precautions:       Emergencies will typically be in the form of spills, fire or explosions. As a result, radioactive materials may be spread around a facility. Radioactive contamination can be spread beyond the immediate spill area by the movement of personnel involved in the actual spill or cleanup effort. Prevent the spread of contamination by confining the movement of personnel until a qualified person has monitored them and found to be free of radioactive contamination.


  • Don’t panic! Get control of the situation.
  • Attend to personnel injuries or emergencies first. Injuries take precedent over               

             radioactive contamination.

  • WARN OTHERS and request radiological assistance from others.
  • Direct potentially contaminated personnel to stay in a CONTROLLED AREA of the      

             laboratory until they have been monitored and shown to be free of contamination.

  • ISOLATE & CONTAIN the spill to a localized area of the laboratory. Post or tape off the

    affected area and establish an entry “control point” into the area.
  • DO NOT SPREAD CONTAMINATION beyond the immediate area. Leave contaminated 

             shoes in the affected area.

  • DO NOT allow others into the contaminated area.
  • MONITOR YOURSELF and the affected area to identify the extent of the contamination.  

             Use smears/swipes or an appropriate radiation survey meter. [REMEMBER:
             Radiation survey meters cannot detect tritium (H-3)!]

  • Contact Public Safety & Environmental Health at 911 as soon as possible for           


PROVIDE: Building name, room number, radionuclide involved, brief description of radiological incident, contact person’s name and phone number at spill site.

  • Initiate decontamination of any contaminated skin (soap & warm water).
  • Wear appropriate protective clothing: long-sleeve lab coat, disposable gloves, shoe                  

             covers or booties, and safety goggles.

  • Cover WET SPILLS with paper towels or absorbent pads. Discard contaminated  

             absorbent materials into a solid radioactive waste drum or plastic bag.

  • Cover DRY SPILLS with a slightly dampened paper towels or absorbent pads.
  • Assist Radiation Safety Service personnel with decontamination or smear/swipe