Review of chemical storage and handling protocols in the Environmental Radioactivity laboratories of



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2 MSDS review


Currently MSDS information for chemicals held by EnRad is located in several places:

  • A red binding folder named ‘MSDS for commonly used and hazardous chemicals’ located in the top left cupboard upon entering room L.19. Contains MSDS for commonly used and hazardous chemicals in the Radiochemistry laboratories (L.19 – L.25)

  • A complete set of MSDS in the bottom cupboard on the left of the weighing bench in L.19

  • A complete set of MSDS held in the central foyer area of the eriss wing

  • A complete set of MSDS held by the gate entrance to the back car park of SSD.

A review conducted immediately following the L19 incident showed that the majority of MSDS for all chemicals were significantly out of date, with some dating back to 1985. In addition, several of the MSDS were incorrect as they did not correspond exactly to the form of the chemical that eriss held.

Follwing the L19 Incident, the Director of eriss requested that all laboratory area managers conduct an immediate review of MSDS holdings to ensure they were up to date. A key recommendation in the L19 Incident Investigation Report was that MSDS holdings should be reviewed every two years and updated.

The updating of all EnRad MSDS was undertaken in three phases.


  1. All out of date MSDS were replaced by MSDS accessed from the ChemWatch database tool provided by the Department.

  2. All chemicals currently held in the Radiochemistry laboratory were listed and checked to ensure an appropriate MSDS was held. The Enrad chemical inventory is located on SSD-Explorer (SSDX) at:

ENRAD Administration\Darwin_Laboratory\Laboratory Management\EnRad Chemical Inventory\EnRad Chemical Inventory.xls

  1. All chemical suppliers were instructed to provide the latest available MSDS for each chemical ordered to ensure that variations between manufacturers’ products could be taken into account.

Phase 3 is ongoing and will continue until updated MSDS have been received for all chemicals held.

The manager of the radiochemistry laboratory evaluated all new MSDS to ensure EnRad complied with all necessary requirements. Additional information relating to specific chemicals that was considered of benefit to staff and that can provide assistance when implementing new procedures or modifying existing ones is given in Appendix 1 of this report. Appendix 2 includes a list of the current chemicals held by EnRad, with details regarding some of the more relevant hazards posed to staff. This material can also be found on SSDX at:



\ENRAD Administration\Darwin_Laboratory\Laboratory Management\EnRad Chemical Inventory\EnRad Chemical Inventory.xls’ in worksheet ‘EnRad - Radiochemistry - Jul 09’.

In addition to the chemicals currently in use, there were a number of chemicals stored in the radiochemistry laboratory that are no longer required. These are made up of several groups which are detailed below:



  • Old standards or Standard Reference Materials (SRMs)

  • Legacy chemicals, including:

    1. Old chemicals that have been stored in the EnRad laboratory areas in their original containers

    2. Chemical solutions prepared for use in Radium separation based on an SSR180 (Martin & Hancock 2004) method that is no longer functional

Old standards or Standard Reference Materials (SRMs)


A list of these was provided to Charles Darwin University (CDU) for scrutiny, and several of these reference materials were subsequently donated to CDU.

Legacy chemicals

Old chemicals stored in original containers

There were a number of chemicals currently held for which there is no current need. These were either disposed of or formally donated to CDU or to another group within eriss. A list of these materials and disposal details is in Appendix 3.
Chemicals solutions used for Radium separation

There were a number of chemical solutions used for separation of radium isotopes according to an in-house procedure detailed in SSR180 (Martin & Hancock 2004). Due to a change in the properties of a cation exchange resin (Dowex 50x12) used in the procedure, it was no longer suitable for radium separation. At the time a new and faster technique for radium analysis (226Ra only) was being implemented and this has since been adapted to allow for determination of the other radium isotope of main interest to eriss (Medley 2009). As such, the method described in SSR180 has not been used since 2001.

2.1 Recommendations from review of chemical holdings


It is recommended that all chemicals in the radiochemistry laboratories that are no longer required are disposed of as soon as possible by an approved contractor. There are also a number of chemicals that are used infrequently or in small quantities. These were detailed, and several that have been held for extensive periods of time were recommended for disposal (Appendix 3). These chemicals should also be managed within the time-management framework for chemicals that is currently being developed.

It is recommended that a list be prepared detailing important information regarding all chemicals held by EnRad. This list needs to be accessible (read-only) to all staff. The Radiochemistry Laboratory Manager should be responsible for managing this list and associated data.

Details that are mandatory on this list are detailed below:



  • Chemical name

  • Hazard Alert Code

  • Dangerous Goods (DG) Class

  • CAS No. – A unique chemical identification number for each chemical

  • UN No. – A unique United Nations identification number for each chemical/group

  • Location to be stored – Include room and safety cabinet/cupboard (ie – corrosives, poisons etc). (This will ensure any storage requirements and incompatibilities are assessed before purchasing new chemicals.)

  • Origin of MSDS – Ideally a Chemwatch and Manufacturer’s MSDS should be held

  • Expiry date of MSDS

  • Storage time limits – this is critical for developing a time-management framework for time-sensitive chemicals


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