Preamble - Radioactivity and ionizing radiation are natural phenomena and features of the environment. Radiation and radioactive material may also be of artificial origin. Both natural and artificial radioactive materials are broadly used in medicine, industry, agriculture and research as well as in energy sector. Such facilities and activities generate a variety of radioactive gaseous and liquid residues which need to be managed in a safe manner. In some situations members of the public might be exposed to radiation and the environment might be contaminated. The exposure arises from the release and subsequent spreading of radionuclides in the environment and from the direct emission of radiation from facilities.
The radioactive releases to the environment and the direct emission of radiation should be strictly controlled to ensure that the public and the environment are protected from harmful effects of ionizing radiation.
Radionuclide releases can also affect people and the environment outside the state in which the discharging facility is located – for this reason a number of legally binding international treaties addressing these issues have been ratified. In a global and long term perspective, the protection of the public and the environment is important for the well-being of present and future generations and for equitable and sustainable development.
The IAEA places a special emphasis on the protection of the public and the environment and addresses these issues through its activities in the following areas:
- Establishing of the IAEA International Safety Standards; particularly the IAEA’s Fundamental Safety Principles and the new International Basic Safety Standards established the comprehensive set of principles and requirements on the control of public exposure and radiological environmental impact
- Development of IAEA Safety Report Series and other technical documents, which provide a solid technical background for the implementation of the IAEA Safety Standards related to the protection of the public and the environment
- Assistance to the IAEA Member States in the implantation of the IAEA Safety Standards, particularly through peer review missions, environmental assessment and environmental remediation projects, scientific programmers on modelling of the movement of radionuclides in the environment, assessment of the public exposure and radiological environmental impact in planned exposure situation, emergency exposure situations and existing exposure situations;
- Information exchange, particularly, the support of the IAEA’s Database on Discharges of Radionuclides to the ATmosphere and the Aquatic environment (DIRATA);
- Training of national experts;
- Joint activities with the relevant international and national organizations, such as World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO);
- Collaboration and contribution to the work of international scientific bodies, such as the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR);
- Providing technical advises on matters related to radioactive materials entering the marine environment for the London convention and the OSPAR convention.
- Draft Safety Standards DS442 "Regulatory Control of Public Exposure and Radiological Environmental Impact from Discharges"
- Draft Safety Standards DS427 “Radiological Environmental Impact Assessment for Facilities and Activities”
- Draft Safety Standards DS432 “Radiation Protection of the Public and the Environment”
- Revised Safety Report Series 19 "Generic Models for Use in Assessing the Impact of Discharges of Radioactive Substances to the Environment"
- Technical Report Series “Environmental Behaviour of Radium”
- Technical Report Series “Environmental Behaviour of Polonium”
- Fukushima Radiological Consequences Team and related activities of the IAEA:
- Fukushima Nuclear Accident
- IAEA International Remediation Expert Mission in Japan
- International Symposium on Decontamination: Towards the Recovery of the Environment (Fukushima City)
- MODARIA (Modelling and Data for Radiological Impact Assessments)
- UN Agencies project "Human Security for Individuals and Communities in Chernobyl-Affected Areas through Local Information Provision (International Chernobyl Research and Information Network) - ICRIN" implemented by the IAEA, UNDP, UNICEF and WHO (see International Chernobyl Portal of the ICRIN Project)
- The international peer review of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the Baltic nuclear power plant (Kaliningrad region, the Russian Federation) on the request of the State Nuclear Energy Corporation (Rosatom) of the Russian Federation.
IAEA Safety Standards and supporting documents
- Safety Guide on Regulatory Control of Radioactive Discharge to the Environment, Safety Standards Series No. WS-G-2.3, IAEA, Vienna (2000)
- Environmental and Source Monitoring for Purposes of Radiation Protection, Safety Guide RS-G-1.8, IAEA, Vienna (2005)
- Programmes and Systems for Source and Environmental Radiation Monitoring, Safety Reports Series No. 64, IAEA, Vienna (2010)
- Generic Models for Use in Assessing the Impact of Discharges of Radioactive Substances to the Environment, Safety Reports Series No. 19, IAEA, Vienna (2001)
- Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, New York (1992)
- JOINT CONVENTION on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management
- ESPOO CONVENTION. The Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context. Espoo (1991)
- LONDON CONVENTION on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, London (1972)
- OSPAR CONVENTION for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, Paris (1992)
- UN General Assembly Resolution 51/189 detailing Institutional arrangements for the implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities
- European Commission Recommendation of 18th December 2003 on standardised information on radioactive airborne and liquid discharges into the environment from nuclear power reactors and reprocessing plants in normal operation
For further information please contact