Norit B.V. receives permission for the processing and storage of radioactive materials in the production of activated carbon

The Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection has granted Norit B.V. at Pieter Ghijsenlaan 42 in Zaandam permission for the processing and temporary storage of radioactive materials involved in the production of activated carbon. These materials are present in the tar and charcoal Norit uses as raw materials in the production of activated carbon. This licence explains the safety measures required of Norit B.V. It is possible to appeal the decision to issue the licence until 6 March 2024.

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Natural radioactive materials in tar

Norit makes activated carbon. This is then used for many purposes. For example, the production of air filters, water filters and medicinal products. In the production of activated carbon, Norit uses tar and charcoal. Tar is a little radioactive. This is because soil naturally contains radioactive materials. Radioactive materials have existed since the Earth was formed. Plants and trees absorb these materials from the soil. Tar is made from plant matter.

Artificial cesium-137 in charcoal

The charcoal can contain trace amounts of an artificial radioactive material called cesium-137. This material was released in the past, during the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine in 1986. After the accident, this material spread to a larger area via the atmosphere, ending up in plants, trees and the soil, mainly in Eastern Europe. These concentrations of cesium-137 are so low that it doesn’t form a risk to public health and the environment.

Concentration of radioactive materials increases during processing

During the processing of tar and charcoal, radioactive materials can stay behind as deposition, for example in machines. This increases the concentration of radioactivity, which means Norit requires a licence. The licence prescribes the safe handling of these radioactive materials.

What does Norit get permission for?

The licence states what measures they have to take to guarantee the safety of workers and the surroundings of the installation, and the workspaces. By granting the licence, the Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection gives permission to Norit to have a certain amount of radioactive materials in their possession. The Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection is entitled to take samples of materials left behind in the installation.

In addition, Norit should also temporarily store the radioactive materials in a special storage facility that meets the legal requirements. They have a maximum period of two years to transport these materials to a waste processor licenced to receive them.

Norit is also required to frequently check for the presence of cesium-137. The company is required to take additional measures to prevent the purchase of charcoal that contains cesium-137. This prevents the creation of radioactive waste containing cesium-137.

2 responses to the draft licence

From 5 July 2023 to 15 August 2023, everyone had the opportunity to respond to the draft licence. Two objections were received and both were sent by Norit itself. In these objections, they made several requests for clarification of the licence. These requests for clarification have been included in the licence itself, which also includes the response from the Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (page 18 and 19, section 2.4).

Appeals can be submitted up to and including 6 March 2024

If you do not agree with the decision, you may lodge an appeal. You can lodge an appeal if you are a stakeholder, which means our decision to grant this licence affects you directly. You can also lodge an appeal if you previously submitted a response (objection). Or if you cannot reasonably be blamed for not submitting an objection.

If you lodge an appeal, you can also apply for injunctive relief. This ensures that the licence does not enter effect until after review of your appeal.

You then submit your notice of appeal or request to the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State. There are two ways to do this:

  1. Online: if you are a private citizen, you can log in with your DigiD to the digital service desk of the Council of State and submit your notice of appeal there.
  2. By post: send your notice of appeal to the Administrative Jurisdiction Division, Council of State, PO Box 20019, 2500 EA The Hague.

Would you like to know more?

Please read the notification in the Government Gazette (in Dutch).