Roadmap to Resource Gammacell 220 Irradiators

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  • Establish a roadmap to resource Gammacell 220 irradiators

Background: For business reasons, Nordion (Sterigenics), has withdrawn resourcing support for current Gammacell 220 irradiators. There exist myriad Gammacell 220 irradiators across North America that face limited options for resourcing (i.e. replenishing cobalt-60 sources) inside the cells. Some of these irradiators are located in academia and national labs such as at NIST. Maintaining traceability to primary standards at NIST is of foremount concern so as not to impede commerce. Maintaining research capabilities at national labs and academic sites is of secondary near-term concern, but critical to maintain long-term US competitiveness in research areas concerning ionizing radiation.

Suggested needs for next generation self-contained irradiators:

  • Uniform calibration volume with dose control and measurement validation at 1 cm spacing
  • Temperature range of -75C to 75C with 1C temperature accuracy
  • Dose control within 3% for industry, and within less than 2% for NIST

Action Items:

1a – Develop agreements, contracts or indemnification documents such as liability wavers from at least NIST and preferably from other national labs to Nordion (or some other corporate entity) to enable resourcing (replenishing) of Gammacell 220 irradiators, which serve as a critical piece of the US primary standards process and help maintain traceability standards; or

1b - Provide a national strategy to update US infrastructure in regards to self-contained gamma irradiators; or

1c - At a minimum, provide a reasonable protocol for academia, labs and industry for the disposal of partially depleted cobalt-60 sources in existing Gammacell 220 irradiators; and

2 - Do not over-react to regulations surrounding cesium-137 and cobalt-60 sources and provide a forum for proper education about lifecycle management including upfront and ongoing costs (money, time, personnel, liability), safety and ongoing traceability.

Resource Requirements:

1a – Minimal funds; moderate complexity; logistics and decision makers must agree that this is a viable near-term approach.

1b - Moderate funds; high complexity; depending on scale, the cost to redesign Gammacell 220 irradiators to meet modern needs and enable better future resourcing would likely require upfront investment on the order of 10 million dollars and a long-term commitment to support ongoing research efforts and ongoing regulatory support concerning distributed gamma cells at labs, and in academia

1c - Moderate funds; unknown complexity