Safety is a top priority at NOAA. The NOAA Safety and Environmental Compliance Office (SECO) is the lead organization for safety at NOAA. We want all employees and contractors to "promote a safe and healthy, environmentally responsible, energy efficient work environment". All NOAA employees and their contractors are required to take the NOAA Employee Safety Awareness Course each year.

Regional Safety Manager:
Regional Environmental Compliance Officer:

GMD Radiation Safety Officer:
GMD Area Safety Representative:
Rhonda Carpenter
Mark George

Brian Vasel
Ann Thorne
(303) 497-3912
(303) 497-3064

(303) 497-6655
(303) 497-4600

General Safety

Radiation safety with regard to radioactive materials.


NOAA/GMD uses a number of low to mid-level radioactive materials to monitor trace gases and aerosols in the atmosphere. Our NOAA/ESRL and ARL Idaho Falls site license from the Nuclear Regulator Commission NRC covers the use of Nickel-63, Hydrogen-3, and Polonium-210. The current version of our NRC license is Amendment 44 of license# 05-11997-01 and expires on January, 2022. Most of these radionuclei materials must be tested every 6 months for leakage from their sealed cells, with exceptions for stored and inactive sources, and certain low level sources. When tested and passed for no leakage ( < 0.005 microcuries), these sealed sources are extremely safe to the users and the public.

All NOAA/ESRL employees must take the NOAA/ESRL radiation safety course and sign the training record and give it to their Radiation Safety Officer.

NOAA/GMD has over 130 electron capture detectors (ECDs) in use worldwide from ground based stations, balloon platforms, tall towers, ocean vessels, and airborne aircraft, manned and unmanned (many are also stored as spare units and inactive). Almost all of the ECDs have Nickel-63 as a source. We have a complete safety basis for the Nickel-63 ECD custom gas chromatographs and a new license will cover the use and operation of those sources. This document includes the need for these sources, specifications (source strengths and manufacturers), removal of cells from their ovens, training slide, and emergency safety procedures (see MSDS attachment).

Every six months, the GMD Radiation Safety Officer must conduct wipe test for radioactive leakage. The typical 5-15 millicuries source must not leak more than 0.005 microcuries. Station personnel or users may be asked to perform some wipe tests. Here are the directions for conducting the wipe test.

For more information on radiation safety, please contact the GMD radiation safety officer.

Training Documents

Wipe Test Instructions

ECD Source Relocation

Reference Materials

Observatory ECD Shipping Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

National Weather Service Safety Manual

Promoting a safe work environment is a top priority of the Earth System Research Laboratory, Global Monitoring Division (GMD) and GMD remains strongly committed to reducing safety related accidents and injuries on the work site. After careful consideration, we have selected the Safety Manual used by the NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) as our guidelines for written safety procedures. This guidance manual is comprehensive and updated periodically. Through adoption of the NWS procedures, GMD can focus on strategies and processes to better support a division-wide safety program.