Regulatory policy on low level radioactive waste and recyclables

Regulatory policy on low level radioactive waste and recyclables
This page is a brief outline. At the bottom is a link to other pages.
We regard this section of the site as an archive, but we're leaving it online as it is still relevant. An important point is that this campaign led to a lot of public pressure and the result was that the UK did not adopt the notorious Table of isotope concentrations in the Basic Safety Standards Directive. The industry had confidently expected that it would replace the pre-existing Substances of Low Activity Exemption Order so that they would have greater freedom to get rid of contaminated materials.

Note: In this section there are many references to DETR.
See this update since the Cabinet reshuffle, June 2001

The Low Level Radiation Campaign's remit is the health effects of radioactive pollution at the kind of levels commonly written off as trivial by the regulators and advisory bodies. Our interest in regulation is confined to this aspect of the nuclear industry. We don't address other aspects.

The pollution thing is big enough. No nuclear installation operates without making licensed releases, and even without talking about high, intermediate and low level waste the industry and the Ministry of Defence have contaminated material and land which they would love to walk away from, dump or sell.

The radioactive content of these materials may be below the thresholds which define materials as "radioactive" and therefore subject to regulatory control, but the legacy of 60 years of nuclear fission means that the volumes of waste and the quantities of radioactivity entailed are massive. The OECD has estimated 1, for example, that 30 million tonnes of metals alone will be dismantled from nuclear installations in the next few decades.

In the early 1990s the IAEA began an initiative to facilitate the release of such materials from regulatory control. In Europe it is embodied in the latest Basic Safety Standards Directive (the BSS - now transposed into law in all member states of the EU).
Our EURATOM campaign opposes those aspects of the BSS which make it easier for the industry to pollute the environment with radioactivity through

  • recycling contaminated materials
  • dumping contaminated waste
  • delicensing contaminated land
The following page explains more about all this, with links to other pages.

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This page was last updated May 2001