Response to Radioactive Spills

If you have a radioactive spill, but cannot decide if it is a major or minor one, call the following as shown below.

Response Personnel

Daytime: call the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO), at 4563

Outside work hours or if RSO is unavailable:
McGill Downtown Campus Security at 3000
MacDonald Campus Security at 7777

Minor Spills

Minor spills involve less than 100 exemption quantities of a radioisotope.

  1. Notify those in immediate area.
  2. Limit access, prevent contamination spread.
  3. Survey personnel before exiting.
  4. Cover spill with absorbent material (unless liquid is flammable or oxidizing).
  5. Wipe test or survey for residual contamination as appropriate.
  6. Wash affected areas, then resurvey.
  7. Remove contaminated clothing and footwear.
  8. Package and label clean up materials for disposal.
  9. Record spill details and contamination monitoring results.
  10. Adjust inventory and waste records as appropriate.
  11. Notify Radiation Safety Officer (RSO).

Major Spills

Major spills involve more than 100 exemption quantities, or contamination of personnel, or release of volatile material.

  1. Persons not involved in the spill should leave the area immediately.
  2. Limit the movement of contaminated personnel until they are monitored.
  3. If a spill occurs in a laboratory, leave the fume hood running to minimize release of volatile radioactive materials to adjacent rooms or hallways.
  4. Close off and secure the spill area to prevent entry.
  5. Post warning signs.
  6. Notify the RSO immediately.
  7. RSO and the spill response team handles this type of spill.
  8. They will package and label clean up materials for disposal.
  9. They will survey the personnel before exiting.
  10. They will remove contaminated clothing and footwear, wash affected areas, then resurvey.
  11. They will survey and decontaminate the spill area.
  12. They will arrange for any necessary bioassay measurements.
  13. They will coordinate evacuation to prevent spread of contamination.
  14. They will select the appropriate PPE, shielding and absorbent spill materials like absorbent paper or spill pillows if the liquid is not a flammable or oxidizing agent.
  15. At the end of clean up procedures, RSO will submit a report to the CNSC.


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