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University of Pittsburgh
Program Areas

Requirements for Authorized Users
of Gamma Irradiators

The use of irradiators at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC is licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) under a specific license. Certain conditions and procedures are required in order to remain in compliance with the license. On a routine basis, the DEP inspects the irradiator program for compliance.

The University Radiation Safety Office (RSO) is responsible for overseeing the use of the irradiators. It performs an audit of each irradiator on a quarterly basis to insure compliance. Copies of the audit results are forwarded to the Authorized User along with any corrective action requirements.

Unescorted access to irradiator rooms is controlled by proximity card and limited to individuals who have been deemed Reliable and Trustworthy in accordance with NRC Order EA-05-090. The RSO oversees and manages this security program.

The Authorized User is held responsible for the daily operation of the unit. This responsibility includes the following:

  1. All individuals using an irradiator must receive training prior to use. This consists of attendance at a radiation safety lecture given by the RSO, and also specific training on the operation and safety aspects of the particular unit.
  2. The Authorized User is responsible for the specific training. Individuals may be designated to provide the actual instruction. The RSO will provide an outline of information to be covered. A written "Certificate of Training" form must be signed by both the trainee and trainer and submitted to the RSO as documentation of training. The RSO maintains a list of all individuals trained on the unit.
  3. Each use of the unit must be documented in a logbook provided by the RSO.
  4. A survey meter calibrated in mR/hr must be available for use in an emergency.
  5. Any malfunctions and proposed repairs or maintenance of the unit must be reported to the RSO before corrective action is taken.
  6. Repairs to the unit involving the source itself, the source drive mechanism or removal of shielding may only be made by a qualified, licensed individual or firm, typically the manufacturer. Routine maintenance as specified by the manufacturer and replacement or adjustment of electro-mechanical components may be performed by qualified individuals under RSO supervision. Exact replacement parts or their equivalent (confirm with the manufacturer) should be utilized.
  7. Relocation of the unit may require that a formal license amendment be submitted to the DEP. Action on this amendment may take several months. Transportation of an irradiator over public roads will require a special shipping container and registration with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and/or the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The RSO highly recommends that either a maintenance service contract should be issued or money should be budgeted annually for the expenses related to calling in a factory technician. This will insure prompt return to service in the event that the unit needs factory repair.