Jump to main content.

Radioactive Sources at Demolition Sites

Radiation Source Reduction & Management
 Source Reduction  Source Tracking   Orphan Source Detection
  and Response
 Orphan Source Recovery

Demolition sites are a major supplier of the world’s scrap metal supply. When demolition contractors are scheduled to take down a building, they may not be notified about the presence of radioactive materials at the site. A gauge or device containing radioactive material may inadvertently be put into the outgoing scrap metal shipments.

On this page:

Why are there radioactive sources in industrial buildings?

Industry uses gauges and devices containing radioactive sources to measure various properties of products during manufacture:

These devices are routinely used by the automotive, paper manufacturing, sewage treatment, cigarette manufacturing and metal fabrication industries.

Why are nuclear gauges and devices a problem for demolition contractors?

Gauges and devices containing radioactive sources are licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and must be disposed of properly. When facilities change hands or are slated for demolition, new owners or demolition contractors must be notified about the presence of these devices. However, this information is often not transferred because these devices are easily forgotten:

As a result, it falls to the demolition contractor to identify these devices at the demolition site.

Top of page

What is being done about this problem?

EPA and the National Demolition Association have formed a partnership to develop training for demolition managers and workers. Increasing on-site awareness and recognition of radioactive sources will help in securing and safe handling of them and reduce the number that show up at scrap yards and metal melting facilities. By managing these materials correctly, hazards to the demolition workers, the public, and the environment can be reduced and the integrity of the demolition and metal recycling industry can be maintained. Homeland security can also be enhanced by regaining control of unsecured radioactive materials that could be used in the manufacture of a “dirty bomb”. The demolition contractors are the last line of defense before these materials leave the demolition site and enter the U.S. scrap metal supply.

various sealed sources

Radioactive Sources from Demolition Sites

Overview of “Identifying Radioactive Sources at the Demolition Site"

The training program simulates opportunities for identifying radioactive sources, outlines best practices, and allows the student to test their understanding of the material. It has five modules:

Throughout the You Need to Know and Opportunities modules, various gauge and device manufacturers, state and federal officials, and a representative of the demolition industry share their insight and perspective on managing radioactive sources and present ways to properly dispose of them. Case studies of improperly handled sources, including consequences, are also presented. This material is complimented by video footage of a radioactive material “discovery."

Top of page

Who should take this training?

The program is designed for two audiences:

The main program can be completed in about three hours in a single or multiple sessions. The Worker Toolbox can be incorporated into the job-site training programs and will take one hour to complete. Both programs are available in English and Spanish, to facilitate the transfer of knowledge. The program also complies with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and can accommodate hearing and vision-impaired persons.

Top of page

Training Course
Demolition Contractors

Radioactive Sources at Demolition Site

Zip File (536 MB)

Download takes approximately 15 minutes. After downloading and unzipping, click on epa.exe to run the training.

ZIP Documents

Large documents are often "zipped" or compressed to reduce the time required to download them. Although zip files can be downloaded with no additional software, you must have the appropriate software to decompress the files and make them useable with their native software. If you do not have zip software, you can learn about compression software and download a free trial version of WINZIP.

If you have any questions, please contact us at 202.343-9367.


  1. Ray Turner, River Metals Recycling, Ft. Mitchell, KY, 11/15/04, personal communication.
  2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Responding to Radiation Alarms at Metal Processing Facilities, CD ROM based training program, 09/17/02, contact radiation.information@epa.gov
  3. National Demolition Association, Doylestown, PA, Demolition Safety Manual, Engineering Survey form (Chapter 3).

Top of page


Local Navigation

Jump to main content.