Radioactive Waste Regulations Won't Affect Harvard Research
Hardvard medical researchers said yesterday that new federal regulation on period of low level radioactive waste passed Friday should have little effect in their work.
But they continued to express worry about a statewide referendum question which it approved in the November 2 election, could severely curtail research with radioactive by products.
Hardvard medical research, including genetics, immunology and cancer related experimentation produces more than seven hundred barrels of waste a year.
The first-ever federal regulations approved by the Nucleate Regulatory Commission classify low level wastes--nutrient than has come into contact with radioactive isotopes in reactors or research facilities into three categories and specify safe way to dispose of each.
Ninety-nine percent of Harvard's radioactive waste falls in the lowest of the three categories. Robert U. Johnson technical associate in radiological services at University Health Services (UHS) said yesterday.
Under the new regulations, such wastes must be buried in containers in sites that would be protected for 100 years, until the materials have decayed to a safe level.
Most of the radioactive waste Harvard researchers produce has a half time of less than 90 days and can be kept in storage rooms around the University for two or three years and then safety thrown away. Jacob Shapiro radiological health and safety engineer to UHS said yesterday.
This extremely low-level waste will probably be exempted from the regulations Johnson said.
Hardvard waste with a half life of many than 90 days about 500 burials a year--is sent to a disposal site in Hanford Washington. The new federal regulations should not create any problems with this procedure. Johnson Inkwell.
BUt the Mussacbusctis refendrum question would require another refendrum before a Mussecliasetts waste disposal site could be built. If passed it could leave Harvard researchers without a dumping ground after 1986. When the Hanford she will become unavailable to Harvard in compliance with a 1980 lording waste producers to find burial site closer to home.
Most affected under the federal regulations are Classic C" wastes which do not decay for up to 500 years and must be solidified and hurried 15 meters underground. Among Harvard's only a needle or two from the cyclotron" would fall into this category, Parker I. Cuddington Harvard director of government relations said yesterday.
Hardvard also produces some longer term waste such as carbon-14 and tritium, which have half-lives will over 1000 years. These elements are not very dangerous and will probably be placed in a class by themselves" under future regulation, Shapiro said.