08 December 2016
Notes of SRP One Day Meeting
Implementation of BSS to Radioactive Substances Regulations – Join the Debate!
Held on Thursday 8th December 2016, British Dental Association, London
These notes have been prepared to summarise the presentations (available below) and discussions of this meeting. It is intended that members will further engage in the debate by posting comments in the Forums (this is member access only and you will need to be logged into MySRP or the Forums).
Notwithstanding UK’s EU referendum results, the EURATOM Basic Safety Standards (BSS) Directive 2013/59 will have to be transposed into UK legislation by 6th February 2018. To help prepare for the legislative changes this one-day meeting looked at the implementation of the BSS with respect to the Radioactive Substances Regulations.
Following an introduction which included a summary of the recent questionnaire undertaken by SRP and some comments on devolved issues, there were two key sessions each followed by a discussion forum. Feedback from the discussion for were presented after both sessions.
Session 1: Welcome and Introduction
BEIS are open to suggestions regarding changes to existing RSR but need justification and impact assessments to be provided. In line with government policy there will be no ‘gold plating’ and it is unlikely that changes not required by the BSS or that affect only a few employers/sites will be made.
The strategy for implementing the 2013 BSSD is to maintain the existing architecture of legislation, being pragmatic about the changes, and having more continuity than change (evolution not revolution). The new regulations are being drafted now, but ministerial permission is required to release the draft and any associate guidance. From the meetings that have been held to date, it appears that ACoP and guidance will be provided for IRR18 and REPPIR. [Outside the meeting, we note that the Department of Health has indicated that it intends to provide guidance for the new IRMER.]
A summary of the results of the SRP on-line survey including was reported. This included responses received directly via email and other comments – around 80 individual responses in total. Responses were from RWAs and RPAs and included those outside SRP. The main points were:
1.3 Devolved Issues
In Scotland it was hoped to complete general regulatory regime reform by 6 February 2018 to bring all pollutants together (cf EPR?). But this is very unlikely to be achieved. As a result, the BSSD will be implemented in a similar manner to rest of UK by updating individual pieces of legislation. These interim arrangements are likely to be limited to those changes required by the BSS with other changes to improve the legislation being made at a later date as part of the general reform. Scotland is expecting its draft interim regulations to be available in early 2017 with stakeholder meetings being held to discuss both the interim regulations and longer term reform.
It is anticipated that the interim arrangements to the RSA will match the changes to EPR in England and Wales. The interim arrangements would require changes to primary legislation, but some of the BSS requirements would be implemented via Scottish Government instructions directly to the regulators.
Session 2: Changes to the Radioactive Substances regulations
2.1 The graded approach (i.e. tiers of regulatory control)
The BSSD requires a graded approach commensurate with the hazard posed. In the current regime, a bespoke permit is considered equivalent to ‘licencing’ and a standard permit is equivalent to ‘registration’. EAs do not intend to introduce a requirement for notification for exempt practices [these will be captured for the purposes of BSSD by notification under IRR18]. For the most part there will be no change, however, current regulations do not cover consumer goods (or the import of) so some changes will be needed for that. With regard to the ‘authorisation procedure’ in the BSSD, to meet the requirements that are additional to those for EPR, information will be included in the HSE system, e.g. occupational doses for licenced practices. There are also no changes required with regard to inspection and enforcement.
In some instances, EA has required notification of specific practices, this position would be maintained (so EA retain the option to require notification, but it won’t be a general requirement).
2.2 Radioactive sealed sources
There are some changes to the activities over which sources are classified as HASS. Most are higher than before, but some, notably Am-241, are lower. It is expected that this will result in a reduction of around 25% in the number of HASS sources, for example, in Scotland. The most significant change is that sources will cease to be HASS once their activity has decayed below the relevant level (as opposed to current system where sources remain HASS until they are disposed of). This is likely to have the most impact for sources with relatively short half-lives, such as Ir-192. There will be no requirement to report annually, although requirements for financial provisions for disposal and security arrangements remain.
There are new requirements in BSSD for other sources – but these will not require any change to UK regulations. The orphan source definition now includes all sources, both sealed and unsealed, and there is a new requirement for metal recycling facilities to report orphan sources if they have smelt or damaged them such that metal has become contaminated. The new regulations will allow prosecution if reporting doesn’t happen. There is a general requirement on governments to raise awareness regarding orphan sources and ensure technical advice is always available (via EA helpline). There are likely to be no practical changes regarding orphan sources, the new regulations will just give enforcement agencies wider brief more formally.
2.3 Radioactive waste clearance and exemption
It is likely that the current framework for exemption and out of scope will continue. Although values are given, there is some scope for adopting different values if these can be justified. Most values will be lifted from BSSD but some, notably for Cs-137 and C-14, will be kept as the existing value.
The definition of NORM and NORM practices is wider in the BSSD and it distinguishes between practices where NORM is used for its radioactive properties and other uses. The UK is likely to include geothermal energy production in its list of practices. There are some differences between the exempt/out of scope values, with most being higher in the BSSD – one exception is K-40 which is currently completely out of scope but given an in scope value of 10 Bq/g in the BSSD.
There was some discussion about having out of scope values for aqueous liquids in 2011 (for EPR Exemption Orders) but was felt to be too difficult as it was too dependent on the individual discharge. There is currently a case being made to include an out of scope level in new regulations.
The intention was to update guidance but that this had been blocked up to now by government policy. However, the EPR is currently being reviewed for other reasons and updated regulations (EPR17) are being introduced early in 2017 for which new guidance will be required.
Call to action: Please register your interest in out of scope levels for aqueous liquids with EA/SEPA.
Session 3: Changes to the Radioactive Substances regulations.
3.1 Reference levels for public exposure and Dose constraints
Dose constraints are not new and apply to planned exposure situations. Reference levels are new and apply to emergency and existing exposure situations. Both are intended to ensure doses from all situations are optimised, and are not limits – i.e. there is no automatic regulatory enforcement action if constraints or reference levels are exceeded.
BSSD states that Reference Levels should be set at values where it is inappropriate to allow the situation to persist. Values of between 1 and 20 mSv per year are given for existing situations and between 20 and 100 mSv per year (or as an acute dose) for emergency situations. Reference Levels may change with time for the same situation – for example as an emergency moves from the emergency through the recovery phase to become an existing exposure situation.
PHE have been looking at Reference Levels along with the existing system of Emergency Reference Levels (ERLs) which are for immediate action, and are suggesting two new terms:
Implementation of Reference Level requirements will need new regulations to empower the Secretary of State to be able to set appropriate Reference Levels.
Dose constraints are an upper bound for optimisation of controlled sources. The 2013 BSSD has a slightly different definition to 1996 BSSD (and therefore current RSA and EPR). New values are likely to be included in regulations as: 0.3mSv per year per source and 0.5mSv per year per site.
The dose constraint proposed by PHE of 0.15mSv per year for new practices is an advisory statement and not likely to be included in new legislation. Its basis is that it is likely that dose would be optimised to a greater extent for completely new sources, but that, in practice, new sources are often installed/used on existing sites and there are lots of other confounding factors.
3.2 Existing exposure situations/contaminated land
Existing exposure situations are defined as: contaminated land; areas contaminated during the recovery phase of an emergency situation; and contaminated commodities.
For contaminated land, the current arrangements are consistent with the BSSD approach and likely to be acceptable. For contaminated areas, new legislation supported by guidance is likely to be required to allow the Secretary of State (probably) to set appropriate levels. Further consideration will be required regarding the ongoing control of such areas, including control of access.
The UK will need to establish methods for recognising existing exposure situations where intervention is required, e.g. those where the annual dose is > 3mSv/yr. It is likely that this will be done under the current contaminated land arrangements.
Call to action: is 3mSv/year an appropriate level for contaminated land?
4 Discussion Forum Feedback
Consistency and Harmonisation in legislation
Out-of-Scope and Exemption levels
Exemption for liquid waste is required
Conclusions and next steps
It is anticipated that the proposed IRR18 and the ACoP will be available early 2017. The RSR are likely to follow a short while later. It is likely that due to time constraints there will not be wide consultation for the associated guidance. There will be separate consultation for the changes to legislation in Scotland. SRP are organising a number of Stakeholder meetings for the new regulations. For further information please click here.
SRP will support the production of guidance where the regulators are unable to provide it
Members are invited to post any comments questions on the proposed new legislation on the forum for further debate. With any comments for the new regulations it is really helpful to have specific examples and details regarding issues with the current regulations.
Thank you to the speakers and contributors to this meeting.
I am very indebted to Jill Reay for providing me with her notes for this meeting which forms the basis for these notes – all the errors are mine!
Secretary, SRP BSSD 2013 Working Group
The graded approach - Juliet Long, EA
Radioactive sealed sources - Peter Brember, EA
Radioactive waste clearance and exemption - Angela Wright, SEPA
Reference levels for public exposure and Public dose constraints - Antony Bexon, PHE
Existing exposure situations/contaminated land - Juliet Long, EA