How different types of waste are managed
We categorise radioactive waste in the UK according to its radioactivity.
High level waste
High level waste (HLW) is turned into a glass-like material (vitrification) and stored at the Sellafield site.
We regulate higher activity wastes on nuclear licensed sites jointly with the Office for Nuclear Regulation (an agency of HSE).
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) covers environmental issues for sites in Scotland.
At present, we are concentrating on the regulation of intermediate level waste (ILW). This offers particular challenges when it is being treated, due to the number of different waste types.
Most low level waste (LLW) is disposed of in landfills at the LLW disposal facility at Drigg.
Our role in managing nuclear waste
We regulate how nuclear sites dispose of their radioactive waste (solid waste and discharges to water and air) by granting site-based permits to the companies who run them.
We make sure they minimise the amount of radioactive waste they produce and check they do not exceed their authorised discharge and disposal limits.
We assess proposals from an environmental perspective to ensure packaged wastes are suitable for storage and final disposal.
We interact closely with nuclear licensees, government departments and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).
Much of our work is carried out in partnership with colleagues at the Office for Nuclear Regulation (an agency of HSE) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
Development of joint regulatory guidance on radioactive waste mangement
We are developing further technical guidance in collaboration with the Office for Nuclear Regulation (an agency of HSE) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to give more detail about the expected content of radioactive waste management cases.
Radioactive contaminated land
Find out more about the modification of the contaminated land legislation to include radioactive contaminated land and the process used to assess suspected radioactive contaminated land.
Read our briefing notes about radioactive waste.