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Radioactivity - Contaminated land

Contaminated land

On 1 April 2000 a statutory regime came into force in England, providing an improved system for the identification and remediation of contaminated land, often referred to as "Part IIA", or "Part 2A". Defra is responsible for this regime and the policy which underpins it. Detailed information can be found at:

Although the provisions of Part 2A were not developed to deal specifically with radioactive contaminated land, the Environmental Protection Act 1990 does give powers to the Secretary of State to make regulations applying Part 2A with any necessary modifications to radioactivity. There has been a longstanding ministerial commitment to do this and a consultation paper "Contaminated Land: Extension of Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to include Radioactivity" was published by Defra in July 2005. An analysis and response to this consultation have been published:

Following consultation, the extended Part 2A regime including radioactivity came into force on 4 August 2006. The regime also implements the requirements of articles 48 and 53 (concerned with “intervention”) of Council Directive 96/29/Euratom (BSS Directive) which lays down the basic safety standards for the protection of the health of workers and the general public against the dangers arising from ionising radiation.

The extended regime provides a system for the identification and remediation of land, where contamination is causing lasting exposure to radiation of human beings and where “intervention” is liable to be justified. Further information on the development of the extended Part 2A regime and links to the downloadable regulations on the Office of Public Sector Information website, can be found within the following document link:

  • CLAN 5/06 (PDF 100 KB)
    Defra Circular 01/2006 “Contaminated Land” promulgates the statutory guidance as now amended and sets out the way in which the extended regime is expected to work and replaces DETR Circular 01/2000. The modifications made to the regime do not alter the way Part 2A works for non-radioactive contamination with the exception of the change to appeals procedures for remediation notices served by a local authority.
  • Defra Circular 01/2006 (PDF 550 KB)

At present the extended regime does not apply to radioactive contamination emanating from nuclear licensed sites. Work is currently under way to address issues of compatibility between the requirements of Part 2A and the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy. Once these issues have been resolved, a second phase of regulations extending the regime to nuclear sites will be implemented. This will fully transpose the requirements of Articles 48 and 53 of the BSS Directive.

The Industry Profile series of documents, produced by Defra and its predecessors, provides background information on many of the activities which have given rise to land contamination, and factors which may assist in the identification of sources of contamination. An industry profile has been prepared specifically for land uses which may be subject to radiological contamination.

The Radioactively Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment (RCLEA) is the recommended model for radiation exposure assessments in connection with the Part 2A regime. It is based on the Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment (CLEA) methodology for non-radioactive contaminated land. RCLEA may be used to carry out initial screening assessments or as the sole modelling tool in determining land as radioactively contaminated provided that all the conditions in the Statutory Guidance are met. Work is still being carried out on the documentation, but the latest drafts can be found through the following links:

Queries and comments from users concerning these three publications can be raised on a dedicated website about RCLEA.


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Page last modified: 13 September 2007

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs