We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
The JRC's European radiological data exchange platform (EURDEP) makes radiological monitoring data widely available from most European countries in nearly real-time. This year, the tool celebrates 20 years of service, and features new developments. A new feature allows interactive maps to be produced, displaying public EURDEP data in a simple, intuitive and attractive way.
This was developed following the Fukushima accident in 2011, which triggered the need for a series of improvements, like extended radiological information in case of low radioactivity levels in the environment, as well as improved communication with the public.
EURDEP facilitates the transmission of large datasets from environmental radioactivity and emergency preparedness monitoring networks, as requested by EU legislation between national authorities and the European Commission. It is an integrated part of the official European Commission’s radiological/nuclear emergency arrangements which gathers data from 41 networks in 38 European countries, mainly through 4500 automatic stations. Information is updated every hour.
EURDEP has been used as a model by the IAEA to set up its international monitoring radiation information system and exchange (IRIX and IRMIS). In this context, the JRC is also providing technical assistance to the Incident and Emergency Centre of the IAEA for testing the data exchange with its member states outside Europe.
The EURDEP concept, as a European regional data exchange system, is also being further explored. Currently the JRC is performing a feasibility study for the Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development for setting up regional cooperation on emergency preparedness and response in South-East Asia, and coordinates this with the IAEA.
To underline 20 years of the platform's service, a dedicated event takes place this week at the JRC site in Ispra (Italy). It gathers over 80 participants, including representatives from the Directorates-General for Energy and the JRC, from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty organisation (CTBTO) and the Council of the Baltic Sea States’ expert group on Nuclear and Radiological Safety (CBSS) as well as national authorities competent for radiation monitoring and emergency response from 31 European countries.
The event is focused on progress and future improvements, international collaboration, new related projects and national network developments. Special attention was given to two major EURDEP developments after the Fukushima accident, focused on the further expansion of data exchange to airborne concentration and on improving the communication to the public.
Under the Euratom Treaty, EU countries have to continuously monitor radioactivity in the air, water and soil, and to report it to the European Commission. In addition, in case of a radiological/nuclear accident, Council Decision 87/600 obliges EU Member States to submit at regular intervals information about the state of the emergency. This is done by means of the European Community Urgent Radiological Information Exchange (ECURIE) channels – EURDEP being an official part of ECURIE for facilitating the exchange of environmental monitoring data (currently gamma dose-rate and air concentration).
Both ECURIE and EURDEP have been conceived, developed, tested and implemented by the Directorate-General for Energy, the ECURIE-EURDEP working group and the JRC, in this way assisting Member States in meeting their legal reporting obligations and allowing Candidate Countries to participate. At the same time, international data standards and protocols with the IAEA have been developed and implemented to keep these information systems compatible with the EU countries' international obligations.