Large sealed sources are used to non-destructively test welds, castings and structural material for cracks and flaws which could render the product or construction unsafe. These radiography sources are extremely hazardous if mishandled and can cause skin burns, loss of fingers and other tissue damage, and potentially death. Contamination is not a problem.
Various sizes of sealed sources are used to measure thickness of material, density, fill level, or flow rate in pipes, tanks or other vessels in numerous industries. The sources and their housings are manufactured to stringent specifications to ensure their safety no matter where the gauge is used. In the worst instance in this state, molten steel poured over a gauge destroying the electronics but had no effect on the sealed source.
Small sealed sources are used in portable test equipment to measure moisture and/or density of road beds, roofing, or agricultural land. The gauges are susceptible to theft and damage. Even the most severely damaged gauges have been easily picked up for return to the manufacturer. No contamination has occurred.
Unsealed radioactive materials may be used to study living systems and to improve or test products or materials. Users include biotechnology firms, colleges, and testing labs. Small sources in gas chromatographs are included in this category. Some of these labs may be licensed for sufficient quantity of material to be subject to our decommissioning funding plan requirement.
Radiopharmaceuticals – unsealed material for diagnostic or therapeutic use – and the radiation from sealed sources for therapeutic use are administered to patients. Most hospitals and some major clinics have nuclear medicine departments. Some clinics and certain private physicians are licensed for diagnostic use and/or therapy treatments of outpatients.
In-Vitro: Medical labs, hospitals, private physicians, and veterinarians using extremely limited amounts of radioactive material for in-vitro clinical testing are only required to register with the department. Test kits are limited in quantity and the hazard is low enough to allow any waste to be discarded in the sewerage system or regular trash collection.
Both sealed and unsealed radioactive materials can be used in a number of ways not easily categorized. Some are essentially unique uses. Other users include broad scope licensees, manufacturers, decontamination and waste brokering, nuclear laundry, calibration of instruments, leak testing services, and product irradiators. Many of these licensees will be required to have a decommissioning funding plan.
If you intend to work at a federal facility in any state, you must obtain reciprocal recognition of your Washington license from the appropriate jurisdiction before beginning work. You will be subject to whatever fees and regulations are in effect for that locality. Please review CFR 170.31, item 16, on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) website for reciprocity fee information.
- To apply for reciprocal recognition for your state's license to work in Washington State: Reciprocity Information
General License Registration
Many industrial facilities and laboratories use relatively small or well shielded sealed sources in equipment designed to be used safely by persons untrained with respect to radiation safety. We maintain records of where these devices are located which have been sold under general license. Some sources are of sufficient quantity to require registration.