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Radiation Safety

Environmental Health and Safety

Laboratory Decommissioning

Purpose: The purpose of this decommissioning procedure is to ensure that when a laboratory is vacated it has been properly decommissioned and there is no contamination present.

When a laboratory is being vacated, it is important to follow proper decommissioning procedures to ensure the laboratory is in a safe condition for the next occupant. To accomplish this, the following procedure has been developed in accordance with our Radiological Materials License to provide guidance to the Principle Investigator (PI) in adequately decommissioning the laboratory they are vacating. Events requiring decommissioning of a laboratory include:

  • Terminating affiliation with East Tennessee State University
  • Relocating to another laboratory space
  • Laboratory renovation
  • Retirement from research pursuits


The PI is fully responsible for complying with all laboratory decommissioning requirements. In the event of disability, abrupt termination of employment, death or other unplanned event, the department chair becomes responsible for implementing decommissioning procedure. Department chairs are additionally responsible for oversight of the decommissioning procedure and for certifying that a vacated laboratory space has been properly decommissioned. Departments may incur significant costs as a result of laboratories that have not been properly decommissioned. Departments are responsible for any deficiencies not corrected by the PI.

The following steps need to be taken when vacating a laboratory:

Chemical Safety:

  1. Empty all drawers and cabinets.
  2. Label all chemicals with appropriate information including name & manufacturer.
  3. Cap or seal all containers.
  4. Contact Environmental Health & Safety (439-6028) to arrange for pickup of all chemicals you wish to dispose of.
  5. Never dispose of chemicals down the drain or in the trash.
  6. egregate chemicals by compatibility.
  7. When moving chemicals between locations, use secondary containment pans to hold leaks or spills that can occur during transport.

Radioactive Materials:

  1. Prior to decommissioning a laboratory the PI shall contact the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) for proper lab decommissioning.
  2. Transfer radioactive materials to the new location. All radioactive material must be secured from unauthorized use, removal, or vandalism at all times.
  3. Any unwanted radioactive materials and waste shall be removed from the lab by the RSO.
  4. Wipe down counters, benches, shelving units, fume hoods and chemical storage areas. Freezers and refrigerators must be emptied, defrosted and cleaned. If samples are two (2) times background, decontaminate the surface area. Document removal of surface contamination with wipe test.
  5. Return any film badges, TLD rings & radiological survey meter to the RSO.
  6. Remove all radiation signs, stickers and tape from the lab.
  7. Keep decommissioning survey forms on file.
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