Summary of UK Legislation

The following is provided as a brief guide on the current legislation that affects work with sources of ionising radiation in the UK. Click on each heading to download the appropriate regulations or act. For further information on how these affect your workplace please contact us.

Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 (IRR17)

Regulations made under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Designed to ensure that exposure to ionising radiation arising from work activities, whether man-made or natural, is kept as low as reasonably practicable and does not exceed specified dose limits for individuals. In the non-nuclear sector IRR17 are enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and on nuclear sites by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).

IRR17 came into force on 1st January 2018.  They require all organisations previously registered under IRR99 to apply to the HSE to notify, register or seek consent for all non-exempt ionising radiation practices.

We offer all clients assistance in making their IRR17 application.  

The Environmental Permitting Regulations (England and Wales) 2016

The EPR are concerned with control over the security of radioactive materials and in ensuring that any appropriate and justified accumulation and disposal of radioactive waste occurs with minimum impact on the general public and the environment. The Environment Agency (EA) are the regulator in England and Natural Resources Wales in Wales.

Schedule 23 of EPR2016 relates to radioactive substances.  This schedule also provides exemptions that allow organisations to hold prescribed quantities of low level radioactive materials without the need for a permit e.g. smoke detectors, sealed sources for testing instruments etc. 

Where an exemption cannot be used by an organisation a permit is required under EPR 2016 to allow radioactive material to be brought onto any particular site. Where waste is produced, above exemption levels, the permit will  also need to include accumulation, disposal and  / or transfer from the site.

For companies and institutes within England and Wales application forms are available online please contact us for more information.

One of our core services to our clients is assistance in permit applications including detailed environmental impact assessment of proposed aqueous and gaseous releases.

Radioactive Substances Act 1993 (RSA93)

The Radioactive Substances Act 1993 (RSA93) remains in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The regulator in Scotland is the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and in Northern Ireland it is the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA). RSA93 requires organisations that cannot work under an exemption to apply to the regulator for a registration certificate to hold radioactive sources and where applicable an authorisation to accumulate and dispose of radioactive waste.

In Scotland the RSA93 exemption orders have been replaced by The Radioactive Substances Exemption (Scotland) Order 2011 and in Northern Ireland by The Radioactive Substances Act 1993 (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011.

Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009 (CDG 2009)

Regulates all road transport of radioactive material and is based on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material Safety Guide SSR-6. Specific details of the requirements for transport are not given in CDG 2009 instead the operator must refer to the international regulations for carriage by road, the ADR. An electronic copy of ADR is available here.

In the UK the CDG 2009 is regulated by the Office for Nuclear Regulations.

Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 (REPPIR)

Provides protection to members of the public from emergencies that might arise from work with ionising radiations. A radiation emergency is defined as an accident or event in which a member of the public receives an effective dose greater than 5 mSv within a period of 1 year. Companies and organisations that hold unsealed radioactive materials should carry out an assessment to decide whether these regulations apply. REPPIR places legal duties on hospitals, universities, rail transport carriers, local authorities and employers of people who intervene in a radiation emergency. REPPIR is regulated by the Health and Safety Executive.

Hazardous Waste Regulations (2005)

Most radioactive waste is not Directive Waste, but comes under the EPR waste permit or RSA authorisation. However, if radioactive waste is exempt from the requirements of EPR 2016 or RSA 93, and has one or more of the hazardous properties then this waste will likely be classified as hazardous waste according to Regulation 15.

The environment agencies of the UK have published technical guidance on the classification and assessment of waste.  This is available here.

An example of hazardous radioactive wastes include uranium waste containing greater than 0.1% uranium by weight, Contact us for full guidance.


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