United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Scope of Exemption in 10 CFR 20.303 (d) for Disposal of Patient Excreta in Sanitary Sewers

HPPOS-035 PDR-9111210162

See the memorandum from W. J. Olmstead to H. E. Book dated October 13, 1982, and the incoming request from H. E. Book dated August 31, 1982. It is an OELD opinion that the exemption in 10 CFR 20.303 (d) applies even when disposals of patient excreta do not follow direct routes from patient to sewer (e.g., urine samples sent to a laboratory for analysis). Thus, records need not be kept per 10 CFR 20.401 (b).

The health physics position was written in the context of 10 CFR 20.6, 20.303, and 20.401, but it also applies to the "new" 10 CFR Part 20, Sections 20.1006, 20.2003, and 20.2108.

During an inspection in a nuclear medicine laboratory, a Region V inspector asked a medical technologist if any I-131 waste was disposed to the sanitary sewer. When the answer was affirmative, the inspector asked to see the record of such disposals required by 10 CFR 20.401 (b) [or 10 CFR 20.2108 (a)]. He was told that no records were kept.

On the basis of that information, a Notice of Violation was issued, including a citation for noncompliance with 10 CFR 30.51 (a) and 20.401 (b) [or 10 CFR 20.2108 (a)], both of which require records of disposal.

The licensee responded that urine collected during uptake studies and containing I-131 was disposed to the sanitary sewer after being held for some decay. While some records were maintained, they did not include the quantity of I-131 in the urine at the time of disposal. The physician stated, as part of his corrective action, the quantity of I-131 in microcuries would be recorded for each disposal.

Region V told the licensee they would request an interpretation of the regulations. It was suggested to the licensee that he continue to maintain records of the disposals, but that he would be informed the contents of the interpretation when received.

10 CFR 20.303 [or 10 CFR 20.2003] specifies the conditions under which licensees may dispose of licensed material by release into a sanitary sewer system and provides only one exception to these conditions. That exception is contained in 10 CFR 20.303 (d) [or 10 CFR 20.2003 (b)] which states in part: "Excreta from individuals undergoing medical diagnosis or therapy with radioactive material shall be exempt from any limitations contained in this section."

It is an OELD opinion that as long as two basic conditions of the exemption are satisfied, licensees are permitted to discharge patient excreta into sanitary sewers without limitation. The two conditions for exemption that must be satisfied are: (1) the matter to be disposed of must be excreta, and (2) the excreta must be obtained from individuals undergoing medical diagnosis or therapy with radioactive materials. OELD also expressed the opinion that exempt disposals of patient excreta should not be subject to the recordkeeping requirements contained in 10 CFR 20.401 (b) [or 10 CFR 20.2108 (a)].

In must be noted that in accordance with 10 CFR 20.6 [or 10 CFR 20.1006], the opinions expressed by OELD do not constitute an interpretation which will be recognized as binding upon the Commission.

Regulatory references: 10 CFR 20.303, 10 CFR 20.401, 10 CFR 20.2003, 10 CFR 20.2108

Subject codes: 2.1, 9.0, 9.7

Applicability: Byproduct Material

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, June 04, 2015