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New guidance for landfill operators

on low-level and very low-level radioactive waste

New guidance has been published today (Wednesday) by the Environment Agency for landfill operators who may want to accept low-level and very low-level radioactive waste for disposal.

Last year the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) introduced a more flexible policy approach allowing for the disposal at landfill of certain categories of low-level radioactive waste and very low-level radioactive waste like rubble and soil from decommissioning activities. This new guidance produced by the Environment Agency for landfill operators in England and Wales explains the rules and process.

David Bennett, Strategic Policy Manager for Radioactive Substances Regulation at the Environment Agency, said: “It's the Environment Agency's job to ensure that where waste, including low-level radioactive waste, is sent to landfill it is managed in a way which minimises the risk to people and the environment.

“We understand the public may be concerned about a landfill site near them which potentially could accept this type of waste. However, we will tightly regulate the level of radioactivity allowed to be disposed of to ensure it remains well within the safe, national limits so there is no impact on the public.”

Those landfill sites in England and Wales wishing to accept this type of waste will have to apply to the Environment Agency for an authorisation, and in doing so to justify the suitability of their sites. The Environment Agency will then properly assess their applications, and if satisfied authorise disposals and regulate these sites.

David Bennett continued: “The new guidance will help explain to landfill operators how we will regulate them and what is expected of them. With decommissioning of old nuclear facilities progressing in the next few years, more low and very low-level waste will be produced.

“We expect landfill operators who are applying for authorisations to keep their local communities and other interested parties informed. In addition, we will consult relevant local authorities and the Health and Safety Executive on all applications we receive.”

Authorisations granted for the controlled disposal of low-level radioactive waste at landfill will to have additional requirements and controls, compared to those for the disposal of very low-level radioactive waste. The Environment Agency will require sites authorised for disposal to be strictly monitored, and will ensure the results from this are published.

To download the new guidance, visit the new-look Environment Agency website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/sectors/100241.aspx.

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