Trained UniTech staff monitor laundry deliveries in preparation for decontamination.
All garments and respiratory protection gear processed at a UniTech facility are handled individually. Protective wear from one customer is not washed, or otherwise processed, with protective wear from any other customer. Upon receipt at the receiving area, items are segregated by type as follows:
Regulated (potentially contaminated): Containers and bags are surveyed and segregated by radiation levels to ensure minimal cross contamination resulting in lower radiological reject rates. Items are processed in our specially designed radiologically licensed laundry.
Non-Regulated (non-contaminated): UniTech facilities located in Springfield, MA, Richland, WA, Barnwell, SC, Oak Ridge, TN, Macon, GA, Morris, IL (2006) and Royersford, PA (2006) maintain laundry areas to process non-regulated material in non-radioactive laundry equipment. Please note: our non-radiological laundry facilities reside within the licensed site but are entirely separate from our regulated laundry facilities, eliminating any potential for cross contamination. Non-regulated laundry facilities are covered within our radioactive materials license and the employees processing the clothing are trained accordingly. If anything unusual is noticed, the employees immediately notify UniTech Health Physics personnel for resolution.
Here, garments are sorted to ensure optimum cleaning.
Clothing Sorting Area
Next, all garments are sorted by type using an automated ventilated conveyor system. The proper sorting of garments is necessary to ensure optimum and efficient cleaning while minimizing cross contamination from highly contaminated items during the wash process. This enhances the effect of our customized wash formulas and maximizes the decontamination factors achieved during UniTech processing. The result is cleaner, longer lasting protective wear for the customer.
This system also maintains the necessary radiological controls to protect UniTech workers.
Only one customer’s laundry is processed at a time.
Clothing Washing Area
UniTech uses state-of-the-art large volume machines to maximize mechanical agitation in the wash process. Customer clothing is processed in a batch mode, one customer at a time, preventing cross contamination. UniTech’s long wash cycles, which employ many fresh water changes, an average of two to three gallons of fresh water for each pound of clothing processed, insure the lowest reject rates possible: The average annual reject rate for customers using our off-site, non-recycled, water wash service is less than one percent.
All wash chemicals are delivered to the system via a computer controlled automated injection system. This ensures precise, consistent formulas, increased cleaning efficiencies, and minimal radiological reject rates.
Equipment/area cleanups and contamination surveys are always performed between processings. New laundry loads cannot enter an area of the plant until survey results are within license specifications.
UniTech’s ALM in action.
Clothing Monitoring Area
UniTech has developed an automated laundry monitor (ALM) for every monitoring need. Our ALMs have been engineered to ensure dependability while maximizing monitoring sensitivity. All systems utilize both upper and lower banks of gas-flow detectors and synchronized wire mesh conveyors which minimize detector-to-garment distance, resulting in optimum counting geometry.
As the garments come off the conveyor monitor, UniTech operators perform an additional visual inspection for holes, rips, tears, defective zippers, etc. If repairs are necessary, the garment is segregated and sent to the mending department for repair..
Following inspection, garments are sorted by size and garment type, folded and bundled to the customers requirements. Garments not meeting customers’ specifications are bagged, labeled as rejected, and returned.
UniTech offers multiple shipping options to customers.
Clothing Shipping Area
After radiological and physical inspection, items meeting customers’ requirements are packaged in specially designed shipping containers. From simple Sealand and bag methods to completely stocked distribution units (SSD 300™ ), UniTech has a program to meet your needs.
The transport vehicles are cleaned and surveyed prior to loading a shipment for return at the customer’s requested time. A new load of cleaned garments can be back to the customer in as little as 24 hours from receipt.
After successful monitoring, items are physically inspected for worn, missing or damaged parts and repaired if necessary.
UniTech is the largest nuclear industry respirator cleaning and testing service in the United States, with several regulated (potentially contaminated) and non-regulated (non-contaminated) respirator service facilities located across the country.
Upon receipt, the items are segregated according to classification (regulated or non-regulated) and transferred to the appropriated processing area. Processing steps are as follows:
- Respirators are disassembled and pre-washed as necessary.
- Respirators are thoroughly washed and disinfected in automated computer-controlled equipment. If respiratory filters are to be reused, they are wiped clean.
- Items are vacuumed to remove residual water and placed in a flow-controlled drying cabinet.
- Every respirator and filter is monitored for both loose and fixed contamination according to customer specifications.
- After successful monitoring, items are physically inspected for worn, missing or damaged parts and repaired if necessary.
- Each respirator and all filters are tested with a challenge agent to the appropriate specifications.
- Items failing any stage of testing are bagged, labeled as rejected, and returned.
UniTech staff package respirators to meet customers’ specifications.
Respirators that pass all testing are placed in a heat-sealed bag with documentation of the test and expiration dates.
Sealed respirators are then packaged to meet customers’ specifications. Containers vary from shallow boxes that prevent distortion of the facepiece, to convertible rolling shelf bulk containers. Packaging systems are individually tailored to customers’ requirements.
Transportation to and from the customer site is completely controlled by UniTech. In nearly 50 years of operation, covering over 30,000,000 miles, UniTech has never had an accident involving release of contamination to the environment.
Shipment schedules are designed to minimize impact on our customers. In many cases, deliveries are made on back shifts to help support on-site operations.