Transfers & Shipments

Authorized Users and their staff are not authorized to transfer, transport, or ship radioactive materials to any location or person except through the U-M Department of Environment, Health & Safety–Radiation Safety Service (RSS).  This includes transport on local roads and public walkways.  RSS must authorize transfers and shipments and will transport or ship the material to the intended recipient at no additional charge beyond the shipping costs.


Please be aware that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulate the transportation of radioactive materials and of hazardous materials in general and enforce the regulations strictly.

  • Any individual who transports radioactive materials or offers them for transport must be specifically and comprehensively trained in all the applicable DOT rules [49 CFR 172.702(a)] and must be certified by his/her employer as adequately trained to ship hazardous materials.
  • The DOT can and will cite untrained and uncertified individuals along with the individual’s employer if they engage in regulated transportation activities.  The DOT has levied steep fines against individuals, as well as their employers, for failing to comply with its regulations.

Do not attempt to ship any hazardous material without consulting with RSS in advance for guidance.  If you are unsure if material is hazardous for purposes of transportation, you can consult the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for that material.  The SDS should include a section listing transportation restrictions or you can contact Hazardous Materials Management (HMM) at (734) 763-4568.  HMM will be glad to advise you.

To obtain approval and schedule an intra-campus transfer of radioactive materials to another Authorized User:

  • Call RSS at (734) 647-1143 at least 24 hours in advance of when you want to schedule the transfer.
  • Provide the name of the Authorized User sending radioactive material along with the lab room number and where the material is located.
  • Provide the name of the Authorized User receiving the material along with the lab room number where it is to be delivered.
  • Provide a full description of the material being transferred:
    • Isotope
    • Chemical form
    • Activity
    • Approximate volume or mass
    • Information regarding additional hazards or special packaging requirements (e.g. the package will contain dry ice, biological materials, etc)
  • Provide a contact name and phone number. Response: The RSS receptionist will confirm that the recipient is properly approved to receive the material described and will schedule a date and time for the transfer.
  • Prepare the material for transfer in appropriate packaging:
    • Place materials in spill-resistant secondary outer containers such as plastic screw-cap jars.
    • Position them securely inside inner packaging (e.g. Styrofoam inner pack) to minimize shifting and add absorbent material.
    • Label the inner packaging identifying the contents as radioactive.
    • Close the outer carton but don’t seal it. We will inspect the contents upon arrival and affix appropriate markings and labels to the carton.

You must arrange to have someone at the lab where RSS will collect the package and at the lab where RSS will deliver the package at the scheduled time of transfer.  Radioactive materials must be secured from unauthorized removal and cannot be left unattended.

Walkover transfers:  RSS may approve some walk-over transfers to other Authorized Users of low-activity radioactive material when the transfer is to another Authorized User in the same building and doesn’t involve transport on public roads or walkways.  You still need to call in each transfer in advance for clearance and approval of the walkover.  Contact a RSS health physicist if this is something you may need to do on a frequent basis.

For shipments within the United States, contact RSS at (734) 647-1143 at least 5-7 days prior to your proposed transfer or shipment date.

RSS will arrange for the proper transportation and shipping of materials to other institutions.   Specifically, RSS will provide the following services:

  • Confirm the recipient institution is properly licensed by the appropriate state or federal government agency to receive the type and quantity of radioactive material you are transferring.
  • Advise and/or assist with properly packaging materials to be shipped both in terms of radioactive content and other subsidiary hazards (e.g. dry ice).
  • Properly mark, label, and secure packages and prepare the proper paperwork and documentation in accordance with Department of Transportation (DOT) rules and regulations.
  • Arrange for shipment through a qualified common carrier (e.g. Fed Ex) to the destination.

Contact RSS at least 2-3 weeks in advance or more of when you would like to ship the radioactive material to another country.  In many instances, receiving nations have additional restrictions regarding the importation of radioactive materials and may prohibit them outright.  Further, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has rules governing international transfer of radioactive materials and may restrict transfer to certain nations.

International customs clearances will vary in complexity.  In some instances, your intended recipient may need to personally assist with clearing the items through foreign customs at the airport upon arrival if the recipient does not have a qualified customs broker to act on its behalf.

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