Radioactive waste advisers

Radioactive waste advisers are specialists in radioactive waste disposal and environmental radiation protection.

There is a requirement under European law for people who keep or use radioactive material, or who accumulate or dispose of radioactive waste, to appoint advisers, known as ‘radiation protection experts’ to advise them on radiological protection. 

In the UK, radiation protection experts working in for radioactive waste management and environmental radiation protection are called Radioactive Waste Advisers (RWA).

The Radioactive Waste Adviser scheme was developed jointly by SEPA, the Environment Agency and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency with extensive stakeholder engagement.

Details of how we comply with our legal obligations and how the scheme is implemented can be found in the environment agencies’ Statement on radioactive waste advisers, which was published in May 2011.

Who needs a RWA?

Anyone who has a permit under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010 or an authorisation under the Radioactive Substances Act 1993 to accumulate or dispose of radioactive waste needs to appoint a Radioactive Waste Adviser.

What is a RWA?

A RWA is a specialist in radioactive waste disposal and environmental radiation protection who has demonstrated competence in the RWA syllabus.

An individual RWA is someone who has demonstrated competence in all parts of the RWA syllabus, whereas a Corporate RWA is a group of individuals who can collectively demonstrate competence in the Radioactive Waste Adviser syllabus for giving advice to a nuclear permit holder.

Who assesses the competence and suitability of RWAs?

Individual RWAs are assessed by assessing bodies approved by the environment agencies. A Corporate RWA is assessed in accordance with corporate arrangements put in place by a nuclear permit holder and approved by the environment agencies.

The permit holder is responsible for assessing the suitability of RWAs. The environment agencies may check the permit holder’s procedures for determining and assessing suitability during routine inspections, as for any other permit condition.

What is the RWA Approval Board?

The environment agencies have set up a RWA approval board, which operates in accordance with a constitution agreed by the agencies.

The board’s purpose is:

In addition to SEPA representation, the board also has members from the Environment Agency (EA), the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

Members from the nuclear and non-nuclear industries participate in an advisory capacity, invited through the Nuclear Industry Liaison Group (NILG), the Scottish Non-Nuclear Industry Liaison Group (SNNILG) and the Small Users Liaison Group (SULG).

How can I become recognised as a RWA?

To become recognised as an individual RWA you need to be able to demonstrate competence in all parts of the RWA Syllabus to an Approved Assessing Body.

Competence for RWAs is defined as ‘the combination of knowledge and experience that equips an individual or group of individuals to provide expert advice on radioactive waste management and environmental radiation protection’.  It is likely to be obtained by a combination of education, training and practical experience.

RPA 2000 has been approved as an Assessing Body for RWAs and information on its application and assessment process can be found on the RPA 2000 website

The following guidance provides help for those who want to become certified RWAs or those who need to appoint RWAs:

What are grandfather rights?

Grandfather rights were awarded to radiation protection professionals carrying out RWA work on or before 31 December 2012. 

Grandfather rights expire on 30 June 2016 and, after this, anyone wanting to continue to provide RWA advice will need to be certified by an approved assessing body.

Keeping you informed

When we have information on the RWA scheme we publish it in a RWA Update:

Please contact us if you would like to be included in the mailing list for these updates.

Contact us

If you require any more information about Radioactive Waste Advisers, please contact us.