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Tritium Disposal

Manufacturers and distributors of tritium EXIT signs are "specific licensees." This means they must apply for and receive a radioactive materials license from the NRC or an Agreement State. Facilities that use tritium EXIT signs are "general licensees," meaning they do not need apply for a license to use the signs. The signs, considered "generally licensed devices," are designed to be inherently safe so they can be used without the need for radiation training.

But the signs are still subject to certain regulatory requirements. Most important is the requirement for proper disposal, because a damaged sign could contaminate the immediate area and require expensive cleanup. Manufacturers and distributors must let purchasers know what NRC regulations require. The general licensee must put one person in charge of meeting those requirements. The general licensee must also report any changes affecting a device or the person responsible for it. General licensees may be inspected by the NRC or an Agreement State and may face penalties for violating the regulations.

Under NRC regulations, a general licensee using a tritium EXIT sign must:

  • NOT remove the labeling or radioactive symbol or abandon the sign;
  • properly dispose of an unwanted sign (see below);
  • report to the NRC or appropriate Agreement State any lost, stolen or broken sign;
  • let the NRC or Agreement State know of changes to the name or address of the general licensee or the person in charge of complying with the regulations;
  • NOT give away or sell the sign unless it is to remain in use at its original location; in such a case, the general licensee making the transfer must give the new owner a copy of the regulations and report the transfer to the NRC or Agreement State within 30 days.

Tritium EXIT signs must NOT be disposed of as normal trash. To dispose of a sign properly, a general licensee must transfer the sign to a specific licensee—such as a manufacturer, distributor, licensed radioactive waste broker or licensed low-level radioactive waste disposal facility. These facilities may charge a fee for disposing of the sign.