Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Managing Radioactive Substances

Managing Radioactive Substances

Radioactive substances are used in some industries, including the medical industry and some manufacturing activities. There are legal controls on keeping and using radioactive materials and accumulating and disposing of radioactive waste. These aim to protect people and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation.

Scotland: New Authorisations - please note

The regulation of radioactive substances and waste has changed in Scotland as of 1 September 2018. A new structure for permitting has been introduced. NetRegs will be updated in the very near future, but in the meantime you can access information on the SEPA website.

SEPA: Radioactive substances

SEPA: Authorisation guide for radioactive substances


In Northern Ireland:

If your business keeps or uses radioactive material, or accumulates or disposes of radioactive waste you must work out if the materials you use:

  • are out of scope
  • are exempt (conditions apply)
  • require a certificate of registration or a certificate of authorisation.

Many common uses for radioactive substances will be out of scope of the regulations, or will be covered by an exemption.

This guide is intended for users of radioactive substances on non-nuclear sites. It is not intended for radioactive waste disposal sites, underground storage or disposal facilities, or nuclear licensed sites (such as nuclear power stations).

It outlines what radioactive substances are, how to decide if you are out of scope, exempt, or if you need to apply for a certificate of registration or authorisation.  It also outlines the conditions required for an exemption, and what you must do to comply with your certificate of registration or authorisation should you need one.

Radioactive substances include radioactive material and radioactive waste. Different legal controls apply to handling radioactive material and dealing with radioactive waste.

For more information read our guidance on what is a radioactive substance


The radioactive materials you keep and use, and the waste that you produce may be classed as “out of scope” of the regulations if the risk to the environment and human health is considered to be negligible.

For more information read our guidance on radioactive materials out of scope of the regulations

For more information and links to key pieces of environmental legislation relating to radioactive substances read our guidance on radioactive substances environmental legislation

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