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Operation and efficiency of facilities for monitoring the level of radioactivity in the air, water and soil - Report 1990-2007

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This report refers to activities that took place between 1990 and 2007 to verify the operation and efficiency of national installations for monitoring levels of radioactivity in the air, water and soil.

ACT

Communication from the Commission of 20 December 2007: Application of Article 35 of the Euratom Treaty. Verification of the operation and efficiency of facilities for continuous monitoring of the level of radioactivity in the air, water and soil – Report 1990-2007 [COM (2007) 847 final - not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

Under article 35 of the Euratom Treaty, Member States must set up facilities to monitor the level of radioactivity in the air, water and soil and compliance with basic standards as regards the health and safety of members of the public and workers. Furthermore, the Commission has the right of access to those facilities to verify that they are operating effectively.

Up until the end of the 1980s, verification activities were not carried out on a frequent basis. Following the accident at Chernobyl, the Commission announced its intention to increase the number of verifications. 23 verifications were performed between 1990 and 2003. Since 2004, verifications have become systematic, with priority being given to new Member States and to more vulnerable facilities. As a result, between 2004 and 2007, the Commission performed 25 verifications across all Member States. These verifications were carried out in reprocessing plants, nuclear power plants, research institutions, NORM (naturally occurring radioactive materials) facilities, hospitals and an old uranium mine as well as in national surveillance networks.

Verifications can refer as much to environmental radioactivity monitoring facilities in the strict sense as to facilities necessary for monitoring discharges to assess their impact on the public exposed and, depending on the case, on an area around a specific site or on the entire or a part of the territory of Member States. Verification results in a technical confirmation report which provides an overview of requirements and arrangements made to monitor the level of radioactivity and to assess the impact of discharges and also in a report summarising the main findings of the verifications.

These verifications, particularly with regard to the overall quality of facilities and laboratories, have resulted in the Commission observing the need to strengthen the monitoring function of the competent authority, storage and sample-taking programmes. A single verification exercise in 2002 produced unsatisfactory results overall: this concerned a research reactor used without authorisation and with no regulatory control, which resulted in the Commission initiating infringement proceedings.

According to the communication, between five and seven verifications are completed each year. The Commission considers that the frequency of visits to key plants should be increased.

RELATED ACTSÂ

Commission Communication: Verification of environmental radioactivity monitoring facilities under the terms of Article 35 of the Euratom Treaty – Practical arrangements for the conduct of verification visits in Member States [Official Journal C 155, 4.7.2006].
Last updated: 31.03.2008
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