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Radioactive substances legislation - scope: guidance

Guidance on radioactive substances activities in Scotland that are out of scope of the Environmental Authorisations (Scotland) Regulations 2018 (EASR).


Annex 3

Hierarchy of Legislation and Guidance

This guidance represents an aid to the interpretation of EASR. It sets out how the various scope provisions in EASR have been determined, and how each provision in some way supports the application of ‘risk-informed regulation’.

The hierarchy involves three levels:

  • EASR sets out the legal provisions dealing with the scope of EASR.
  • Government guidance (this document) sets out the expectations of the Scottish Government with regard to EASR. It is primarily intended for use by the environmental regulators but will also assist those subject to EASR.
  • Regulators’ guidance (procedural guidance) sets out procedural matters in more detail. It has more detailed explanations of how EASR applies and the expectations of those that are regulated under EASR.

Underpinning of the ‘out of scope’ numerical values

‘Out of scope’ is defined in EASR by reference to various activities and threshold values. The basis on which the numerical values and waste disposal criteria have been developed are mainly related to the radiation dose that could be received by a member of the public. There are exceptions to this general concept; threshold values for ‘management of radioactive material’, for instance, are based on practical considerations, bearing in mind that radiation safety for workers is a matter for the health and safety regulators under the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017[11].

Different dose criteria are used for naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) used in ‘NORM industrial activities’ (as specified in EASR), compared to those used for artificial radionuclides and NORM used for their radioactive, fissile or fertile properties.

These dose criteria have been selected as a basis for ‘out of scope’ as representing appropriate levels of risk below which regulation is not necessary. They are based on international standards and guidance which support the BSSD 13. The radiological impact assessments carried out by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to support the ‘out of scope’ values take into account a wide variety of possible exposure pathways including water and food pathways, and assume no controls are placed on the management of radioactive material and management of radioactive waste.

For artificial radionuclides, and for NORM used for their radioactive, fissile or fertile properties (sometimes referred to as a ‘practice’), the numerical values given in Table 3 for ‘out of scope’ are based on a radiation dose of 10 μSv/year to a member of the public. These values are given in the BSSD 13 and are taken from IAEA RS-G-1.7[12]. The term ‘practice’ is not used in EASR; however, it is used in BSSD 13 and in other UK legislation and guidance. In BSSD 13 it is given a broad definition: a human activity that can increase the exposure of individuals to radiation from a radiation source. Where it appears in this guidance, it is used in a narrower sense, as a shorthand form to mean ‘an activity involving artificial radionuclides or which employs the radioactive, fissile or fertile properties of NORM’.

For ‘NORM industrial activities’, the numerical values given in Table 2 (‘out of scope’ values) are based on a number of sources. For solids or ‘relevant liquids, the value of 1 Bq/g for the natural decay chains is taken from IAEA RS-G-1.7 with the values for the some of the decay chain segments being taken from EC RP122 Part 2[13]. The IAEA value of 1 Bq/g is based on the consideration of the upper end of the worldwide distribution of activity concentrations in soil provided by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. The EC RP122 Part 2 concentrations used for the decay chain segments are calculated using a dose criterion of 300 μSv/year for any member of the public. This criterion is also the basis for the values calculated for liquids other than ‘relevant liquids’ taken from HPA-CRCE-005[14] and gaseous concentrations[15].

The Table 2 ‘out of scope’ values for Ra-226 are applied to management of waste arising from the remediation of land contaminated by historic radium activities as long as the contamination occurred prior to 13 May 2000 (date of coming into force of the previous European Council Directive 96/29/Euratom).

As well as numerical limits, other conditions are in place to ensure that the generation of radioactive waste is minimised and disposal limits are appropriate to mitigate consequences, so an operator can be sure that they are in control. Restrictions are placed on the type of substance or article (for example, a waste sealed source), on the disposal route (for example, to a sewer or to a landfill), or on the management of waste (for example, disposal with considerable quantities of non-radioactive waste).

Contact

Email: ceu@gov.scot

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