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Non-nuclear energy

Protection of the Environment

Fission and radiation protection

There are increasing challenges to the adequacy of current policies and standards for radiation protection – in particular those regulations that relate to protection of the environment. These concerns have two origins: increasing public awareness and interest in environmental protection and major differences in the approach to environmental protection for radiation compared to other potentially polluting processes.

Strong pressure is being applied to achieve broad international consensus and to bridge these differences and European research is responding directly to these challenges.

Research in this area comprises both fundamental and applied elements. The main focus is to develop a sound and broadly acceptable conceptual basis for ensuring protection of the environment and to implement a methodological approach to enable the concept to be applied in a regulatory framework. This is supported by more fundamental studies of processes and mechanisms where they are needed to underpin the conceptual and methodological basis.

This area of radiation protection will address the assessment of radiation-related environmental impacts on organisms and ecosystem processes. Future research will link together current knowledge about release scenarios for a variety of radiation sources, exposure pathways, dose effects to various organisms, the differing effects at different levels of biological organization, environmental effects and consequences to provide a reference set of models.

These models will cover a target set of organisms and ecosystems and will include both internal and external exposure factors and dosimetric models. The reference sets will take into account the diversity of the European natural and semi-natural environments.

This newly developed framework will be a useful tool for assessing the environmental impact from chronic and accidental release situations, judging compliance against environmental quality criteria and standards, and communicating to different stake-holders the likely environmental consequences of projects during the planning stage.