[ RadSafe ] Am-241 and INCINERATORS

BRISSON Nicolas nicolas.brisson at irsn.fr
Wed Dec 5 09:05:59 CST 2007

Hello all,

Regarding Am-241 and incinerators I can't be of much help because in France all smoke detectors containing radioactive sources (radium-226 and Am-241) have to be sent back to the producer when they are disposed of.
The producer must then extract the source from the detector and send all sources to the ANDRA (the national agency that takes care of the disposal of all radioactive sources and wastes in France, whether they come from the nuclear industry, mecical centers or anywhere else).

Concerning coal-fired power plants, we carry out studies of their radiological impact on workers and nearby inhabitants.
The coal and all the wastes (water, ashes, cinders, smoke) are analysed to assess how much NORM they contain.
As for now, we didn't find much NORM in all these things.
Cinders and ashes contain roughly 10 times more NORM than the coal but it's still low amounts :
	between 100 and 150 Bq/kg for the U-238 and Th-232 families
	same thing for K-40
	around 6 Bq/kg for U-235

Nicolas Brisson
31, rue de l'Ecluse
tel : 01-30-15-42-75

-----Message d'origine-----
De : radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] De la part de Geo>K0FF
Envoyé : mercredi 5 décembre 2007 15:32
À : radsafe at radlab.nl
Objet : [ RadSafe ] Am-241 and INCINERATORS


The proper method of disposal of a Smoke Detector is in the trash bin. Presumably the waste is buried in a 
landfill, and the Am-241 contained therein decays naturally according to its half life of  432 years over geologic time frames. 

Some cities choose incineration for waste control, especially in Europe. The energy released is often used to generate electricity.

Does anyone have specific information concerning the destruction of Smoke Detectors / Am-241 in incinerators, particularly 
the path the material takes, and the ultimate disposition of the Am-241? My particular interest is: does the material go into 
the fly ash, or into the bottom ash? Since other heavy metals go into the fly ash, one would assume that the Am-241 does as well.
Today, much of the fly ash is recovered and is subsequently used in various construction and industrial projects as an engineering material. 
In some countries it is simply dumped into landfills.

The same question pertains to Radium Watch Hands, etc. but in modern times, I'm thinking the bulk of solid radioactive consumer waste 
would be from Smoke Detectors. 

Does anyone have personal knowledge of smoke stack radiation detection being carried out today? 

Small sources such as these don't amount to much unless the huge numbers of them being discarded each year are taken into account. 
We who use Lead (Pb) for shielding know how important it is to use ancient or at least PRE WW2 lead in shielding because of the 
contamination contained within modern lead. 

We are aware that coal-fired power plants also emit radiation (NORM) from the naturally occurring Radium et al. contained in the coal.

It might be interesting to analyze large concentrations of fly ash for their various radioactive constituents.

George Dowell
New London Nucleonics Lab
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