Home Interviews THMG070 – Basic Hazmat Radiation with Bobby Shelton

THMG070 – Basic Hazmat Radiation with Bobby Shelton


In this episode, Bob and Mike discuss radiation with Bobby Shelton, an expert in the field.

Complete Show Notes

1:10 Introduction to Bobby Shelton

  • Works as a firefighter, hazmat, and WMD specialist and is also a paramedic and rescue technician
  • Currently works at a fire department in southwest Ohio and has over 25 years of fire service experience
  • President of Lifeline Solutions Safety Training Consulting
  • Past classroom presenter at the FDIC (Fire Department Instructor’s Conference) on Hazardous Materials and Teaching Methodology
  • Bob and Mike stumbled across his article on radiation in Volume 169, Issue 11 of Fire Engineering magazine
  • They enjoyed the simplicity of its instruction and felt it meshed with their style of teaching things on a fifth-grade level
  • Bobby’s specialties are placards, labels, and packaging related to radioactive materials

3:35 Packaging Radioactive Materials

  • The thing most hazmat techs fear most is radiation – we don’t really have a great understanding of it
  • We use the DOT placarding system and the ERG to help us
  • There are 3 radiation packing groups – White 1, Yellow 2, and Yellow 3
  • These colors tell us exactly what the package is contaminated with externally
  • Yellow 3 has the greatest amount of contamination and is a Table 1 material, which means it has to be placarded
  • Helps us figure out the level of protection we need – bring the highest level of respiratory protection to protect against internal and external rads
  • Transportation index determines which class the radioactive material is in
    • White 1 – .5 millirems per hour or less, which means there’s minimal tissue damage
    • Yellow 2 – .5 to 50 millirems per hour, which is still negligible in the grand scheme of things
    • Yellow 3 – Use time, distance, and shielding to protect yourself, because this can be dangerous

9:15 ISO/IAEA Radiation Symbol

13:05 SCO and LSA Materials

  • At the most basic level, radiation is just energy that’s being given off
  • Low specific activity (LSA) radiation – any type of material that has a large quantity, but a limited amount of radioactivity
  • Examples of LSA include contaminated dirt or radioactive waste
  • Surface contaminated objects (SCO) – radioactive material on the surface of something; not necessarily radioactive, but more like a contaminated piece of equipment
  • Example of SCO is small amounts of leftover radiation on the surface of something after decon
  • Remember that everything in the rad world is related – don’t be scared or anxious!

17:00 Radioactive Packaging

  • Radioactive packaging is based on the quantity of what it is, the level of radioactive activity, and the state of matter
  • 4 types of radioactive packaging in the U.S.
    • Excepted packaging
      • Used for any radioactive material in a limited quantity that poses very little hazard if released
      • Material doesn’t need to have any kind of specific labeling or shipping papers
      • Still requires the 4-digit ID number stipulated in the ERG
    • Industrial packaging
      • Used in LSA and SCO shipments and falls under DOT packaging rules
      • Federal Code of Regulations outlines requirements industrial packaging has to meet
      • Packaging has to be more durable at this point, so it will be subjected to testing
      • Commonly used when transporting radiopharmaceuticals
    • Type A packaging
      • Used with significantly higher rad sources
      • Constructed of stronger materials and contains an inner container, linings, capsules, rubber, etc.
      • If you’re dealing with a Yellow 3, it has to be in at least Type A packaging
    • Type B packaging
      • Used to carry the highest level of radioactive materials during transport – also called a shipping cask
      • Examples include spent nuclear fuel rods, cobalt, high-level radioactive waste, etc.
      • Causing damage to a Type B cask is literally impossible due to the high level of testing they endure
      • There’s never been a Type B radioactive shipping package transport incident in the U.S.

    31:10 How to Contact Bobby

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