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Naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) are ubiquitous in the earth's crust but can become concentrated during industrial activities. The radioactivity of any wastes arising from hydraulic fracturing would be low. By law any proposed industrial activity that may result in the accumulation of low level radioactive waste requires permission from the relevant environment agency. Permission is contingent on the development of a waste management plan for all anticipated radioactive waste arisings. The applicant must also secure disposal (transfer) routes through companies that are themselves permitted to receive and dispose of radioactive waste.
A UK strategy is currently under development for the management of NORM waste, including those from shale gas exploration and production. It will complement existing strategies for the nuclear industry and for small producers such as hospitals. While it will compare forecast national waste arisings against treatment and disposal capacity, the primary responsibility to secure adequate waste management capacity rests with industry.