EURDEP steps up monitoring of post-Fukushima radiation
In the post-Fukushima crisis, the members of the EUropean Radiological Data Exchange Platform (EURDEP) stepped up monitoring to detect the minor increase of radioactivity caused in Europe. The collected data showed that the maximum air concentration values were reached at the end of March over Poland: Iodine-131 (particulates) concentration values went up to 5-6 mBq/m³ whereas Cesium-137 values stayed below 1 mBq/m³. In normal conditions, air concentration levels for these isotopes stay below 1 μBq/m³. For comparison, the maximum values detected above Europe at the time of the Chernobyl accident were 1 000 to 10 000 times higher.
EURDEP - which is managed by the JRC's Institute for Transuranium Elements (ITU) - provides hourly refreshed data from some 4,400 gamma dose-rate (GDR) stations in 35 European countries. In this case, radioactivity levels were so low that the GDR network was not sensitive enough to detect them, so the JRC encouraged data providers to use a more sophisticated measurement method: High Volume Air Samplers (HVAS).
Before the accident, HVAS air concentration results had regularly been sent in by seven countries only. HVAS are very sensitive, but require an important amount of manual intervention when being operated and the results are only known a few days later. But in case of emergency they are essential for providing information on the precise type of radionuclides and their concentration.
Thanks to this increased input, the system was able to track very low increases of radioactivity and contribute in reducing public concern in Europe.