The Advanced Photon Source
a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility

Using Radioactive Samples / Materials at the APS

The use of radioactive samples requires additional information for review and approval. All proposed experiments involving radioactive samples will be reviewed by the APS Radioactive Sample Safety Review Committee (RSSRC). The review will be on a graded basis. Hence, the experimenters are strongly advised to send in the experiment proposal in detail at least 2 months before the expected scheduled date of the experiment. Previously approved containment, isotopes and weights can be submitted as late as 2 weeks in advance. If your ESAF was submitted less than seven (7) days in advance of its scheduled start date you may be delayed to allow time for a safety review.  

The following guidelines are to be followed for all experiments with radioactive materials at the APS. These are minimum requirements to be adhered to by all experimenters.

  • All radioactive samples at the APS require containment. Containment requirements will depend on the sample form, size, activity, and other factors. The minimum number of containment layers required for a given sample will be determined by the RSSRC review.
  • All solid samples must have at least one acceptable containment enclosure. 
  • Powder and liquid radioactive samples will be allowed provided they have a minimum of two containment enclosures.
  • Gaseous radioactive samples are currently prohibited and would require detailed review.
  • If multiple samples are each individually contained within separate primary barriers, they can have a common secondary and tertiary barrier.
  • In the case of multiple samples inside a primary containment, the sample masses for each isotope must be summed to give the total mass for each isotope within the primary.
  • Fragile materials used as containment must be approved by the RSSRC.
  • All samples must be in the approved containment while at the APS. If the sample needs additional preparation work or containment modification while at Argonne the work must be performed in the Argonne Actinide Facility. Sample containment may not be removed or opened at the APS.

*If your samples are rocks or soil please see HPTN-2015-002 Attachment A for information about very low naturally occurring activity samples.

*If your samples are indistinguishable from background (IFB) please see APS Radioactive Samples Appendix B for guidance if your samples qualify for IFB at the APS (policy updated January 27, 2020).

*If your samples have been been irradiated with neutrons or ion beams they may be considered radioactive samples at the APS.  The following information must be provided: 

  • Source of irradiation (neutrons/ion beams)
  • If ion beams the ion and energy used
  • Date of irradiation
  • Current radiation dose of the samples (at contact and 30cm)
  • Isotopes present from neutron activation (with weight or activity)
  • Provide release criteria or paperwork (final survey) for the samples

Note: even if the samples were free released from another facility, the above information still needs to be provided to determine if the samples are considered radioactive at the APS.  This review needs to be completed before any samples are shipped to the APS.  If any questions please contact Wendy VanWingeren.

Approval is required by BOTH APS AND ANL in order for radioactive material to be shipped to and used at the APS

Beamtime assigned: please complete APS Radioactive Sample Information Form  and see steps below for APS and ANL approvals.

No beamtime assigned, just seeking RSSRC approval on proposed new sample holder at this time: please complete APS Proposed Radioactive Sample Information Form


  • Create ESAF (Experiment Safety Assessment Form)
  • Submit ESAF
    • ESAF may be submitted before final sample preparations are completed
  • ESAF is reviewed by the APS ESRB (Experiment Safety Review Board)
  • Once final sample containment is completed the following should be submitted (if not previously submitted, more details of these requirements on the APS Radioactive Sample Information Form)
    • Pictures showing the final containment/encapsulation of the samples
    • Survey results on final sample containment: dose rates on contact, at 30 cm and smear/wipe test of outer containment
  • Once final containment and survey results are reviewed and approved, APS approval is given.
    • The ESAF will be Conditionally Approved by the APS, final full approval is given after the samples are surveyed and inspected at the start of the experiment



  • The ANL-RSO must grant authorization for every shipment of radioactive material to ANL, even those not regulated by DOT. 
    • There is an exception for samples that have been reviewed and deemed IFB per APS Radioactive Samples Appendix B.  Please complete the requirements for APS approval for this determination.
  • The information supplied on the APS Radioactive Sample Information Form will be used to create an acquisition plan to obtain ANL-RSO authorization.
    • Please ensure the final sample information: weight of each isotope, final number of samples is correct on the Form and ESAF.  The ANL-RSO authorization must match the ESAF and shipping papers. 
    • Please ensure the shipper contact information is correct on the APS Radioactive Sample Information Form. This person will receive the ANL-RSO authorization memo with the correct shipping address to ANL and ANL radioisotope licensing exemption information.
  • Ideally the acquisition plan is not submitted to the ANL-RSO until the APS approval is given (all survey results and pictures of final containment have been reviewed and approved).
    • If sample preparation must be done right before shipment, the plan will be submitted but the samples MAY NOT be shipped until BOTH APS and ANL approvals are granted.


Shipping and Movement of Samples at ANL and the APS

All radioactive shipments (DOT and non-DOT) must be approved by APS and ANL (see above).

Unapproved or unannounced shipments of radioactive materials will be returned to the sender upon receipt at ANL.

It is very important that the quantities of each isotope and number of samples listed in the ESAF match the samples that are brought to the APS. The shipping papers must also match the quantities listed in the ESAF.  Failure to provide accurate sample information can result in delays or not being able to conduct the experiment. 

All radioactive materials must arrive through Argonne Receiving in Building 46 and the Argonne Materials Controls & Accountability (MC&A) Group. This includes radioactive samples/materials that are not regulated by the US Department of Transportation.

NOTE: Argonne will not accept any Saturday or Sunday deliveries of radioactive materials.

All radioactive materials transport between buildings on the Argonne site must be done by the MC&A group. Users may not transport radioactive samples in personal or government vehicles on the Argonne site. If you need to move your samples to another building arrangements must be made in advance with the MC&A group. Radioactive sample movements between buildings may only be performed during normal business hours Monday through Friday. Please plan your work accordingly.

The contact person for the MC&A group is Allison Korb (, 630-252-7388)

Please contact Wendy VanWingeren (630-252-1348) or Liz Schmidt (630-252-3931) for questions on shipping radioactive material to ANL/APS.  It is recommended for shipping to Argonne that a commercial carrier (e.g., FedEx, etc.) is used. After arrival at the APS all radioactive samples will be surveyed by RSO Health Physics before they are accepted at the APS and allowed to be used for the experiment. The survey of individual sample containers will be performed only with a member of the experiment team present. After your experiment, all radioactive samples will be returned to the home institution. The APS does not provide long term storage for radioactive samples. It is the User's responsibility to complete the necessary form and arrange for return shipment with the APS through an APS Floor Coordinator. Users are encouraged to arrange for the return shipment details prior to starting their experiment. If your samples need to be returned by a specific date, please indicate this in the ESAF or to the on-duty Floor Coordinator and/or Wendy VanWingeren in advance. This will allow time for the proper procedural paperwork to be completed and arrangements made for shipment.

Required Training for Handling Radioactive Materials

All users that handle radioactive samples at the APS must complete 2 parts of the ANL Radworker 1 training course: ANL ESH 700 & ANL ESH 700PR. The Department of Energy does not have a reciprocity agreement in place for Radiation Worker training completed at other DOE facilities.

ANL ESH 700: web based course available on the APS remote training website.  This course should be completed remotely before you arrive and is a prerequisite for ESH 700PR.  Retraining required every 2 years.

ANL ESH 700PR: instructor led practical portion that must be scheduled with the trainer based on availability. The course takes about 45 minutes and is held at ANL bldg 202, training lab A334.  Contact Wendy VanWingeren to schedule this training. If this course is required please consider the scheduling when making your travel arrangements.

The APS RSSRC will provide a beamline runtime procedure for radioactive sample handling activities that occur prior to, during, and after the experiment. The procedure covers posting of the area, sample monitoring, and sample movements. This procedure will be attached to the ESAF Description tab when it is available. Health Physics personnel will review the procedure with the experiment team prior to the beginning of the experiment. A copy of the procedure will be in the safety placard on the experiment station door during the experiment.


APS Radioactive Sample Information Form

APS Proposed Radioactive Sample Information Form 

APS Policy for Conducting Radioactive Samples Experiments in APS Experiment Enclosures. 05/11/2023

APS Experiment Hazard Class 8.1 - Radioactive Materials

Please contact the APS User Safety Program if you have any questions or can not access the internal links

Updated: June 12, 2023