Radiation Update

The Building 37 radiation contamination incident and safety concerns following the Oklahoma City bombing are sparking security changes at NIH.

The NIH Radiation Safety Committee recently passed tighter security measures, including requirements that all rooms posted for the use of radioactive materials be locked when unoccupied; that all unattended radioactive materials be locked up; and that no radioactive materials be stored in the corridors after Dec. 26. The Radiation Safety Branch is monitoring security compliance closely and has suspended the ordering, receipt, and use of all radioactive materials in several labs For non-clinical users, a first violation of security policy results in a mandatory suspension for 14 to 30 days, two violations in a year results in a 60-day suspension, and a third violation may result in the permanent loss of radionuclide privileges.

Based on feedback from a meeting with all authorized radionuclide users, Deputy Director for Intramural Research Michael Gottesman has established a Radiation Safety Committee working group to make security provisions more user friendly, and an advisory panel to examine alternatives to the use of radionuclides in research. To respond more swiftly to security risks, the Office of Research Services (ORS) has initiated one-day service to install or replace locks on rooms where radioactive materials are used or stored. To request such service, contact the Locksmith Section (496-3507; after hours: 496-5685). For other radiation concerns, contact the Radiation Safety Branch (496-5774).

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