Broken Vial Containing Radioactive Sample Received at Analytical Laboratory

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Type:  Lessons Learned

Publisher:  URS Corporation, Separations Process Research Unit - URS

Published As:  Public


Topics:  Waste Management, Transportation and Packaging, Material Handling/Storage

The URS Separations Process Research Unit Disposition Project received notification from an offsite analytical laboratory of the receipt of a sample shipment that contained a broken vial. Upon receipt at the analytical laboratory, the package was observed to have no signs of external damage. However, based on the failure of the 125ml sample vial, a potential cause of the breakage was jarring of the package with sufficient severity to cause the two sample vials to come in contact with each other. Another potential cause could have been an undetected pre-existing crack or flaw in the sample vial such that when subject to normal jostling during shipment, it failed.

The packaging technique had been employed numerous times for the shipment of samples with no breakage of the sample vials resulting. It was concluded that these methods could be further improved upon to protect against breakage. Followup discussions with analytical laboratory representatives demonstrated the value of reviewing packaging techniques with the receiving organization. Applying their experience can further ensure package integrity.

Lessons Learned: Personnel responsible for the preparation of packages for shipment containing hazardous materials should periodically review the methods employed for protecting against package failures and seek out best practices from industry.

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