Guidance on decontamination of buildings, infrastructure and open environment

The process that may be required after a deliberate or accidental release of CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear) materials.



This guide has been produced for those in the public and private sector responsible for contingency planning. It gives basic information on the decontamination and remediation that may be required following a deliberate or accidental release in the UK as outlined below.

This document was revised and updated in March 2017. All links have been updated and recent changes to the names and structures of organisations have been reflected in the revised document. Various other changes have been made to improve the information provided within the guidance and ensure it is up to date.

An incident, whether deliberate or accidental (Hazmat), involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials can potentially lead to the loss of life, contamination of the built and open environment, disruption of society and consequential damage to the UK economy. It is therefore important that plans are in place to minimise the effects of such an event, and to plan for recovery following this type of incident.

This guidance covers key elements in the decontamination process following an incident - from developing the initial recovery strategy through to managing waste and returning things to normal. The principal roles and responsibilities of key organisations have been identified and listed, and planning and precautionary measures have been highlighted to promote better preparedness.

In view of the different types of potential incidents, and the variety of buildings, environments and infrastructure that could be affected, the guidance in this document is necessarily generic. It provides a starting point for the development of more detailed contingency plans to deal with specific incidents. This document also describes the current legal powers available to local authorities in the event of such an incident.

The guidance is part of sensible contingency planning and does not mean that there is an increased risk of terrorist attack using CBRN materials.

Published 24 June 2013
Last updated 17 March 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated guidance.

  2. Guidance document updated.

  3. Updated page with most recent version of guidance.

  4. First published.