Gabriele Mraz, December 2019
In the Joint Project, European NGOs and research institutions cooperate since 2003 on safe and sustainable energy issues with a focus on nuclear policies in Central and Eastern Europe. One topic we investigated is how requirements form Basic Safety Standard Directive are implemented in the field of emergency protection and response (EP&R). For more information see http://www.joint-project.org/.
In 2018, the Joint Project sent a questionnaire to the national authorities responsible for radiation protection in Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria and Poland. We asked about the implementation of the Basic Safety Standard (BSS)-Directive 2013/59/Euratom, the implementation and interpretation of Council Regulation (Euratom) 2016/52 and about Intervention levels and countermeasures in case of a radiological accident. See the evaluation of the answers to the Joint Project questionnaire on radiation protection (LINK).
The BSS Directive obliges Member States to re-assess their EP&R regimes, but on the other hand formerly lower reference levels or dose limits could be increased. It is necessary to get prepared for a severe nuclear accident by harmonizing radiation protection and EP&R in the EU – differences in countermeasures and dose limits will result in disturbance of the public. People will not understand if contaminated food is allowed to be put on the market in one country, but forbidden in another one, or if some people are advised for sheltering and taking iodine tablets, and other people receiving the same dose are not.
A basic problem is that the maximum dose limits and reference levels of the BSS-Directive are too high. The questioned Member States mostly do not prefer to deviate from the values and limits of the BSS Directive. Children, embryos, pregnant and breastfeeding women have to be protected better because they are especially vulnerable to radiation. Radon levels have to be reduced to lower the lung cancer risk. These topic needs to be followed up in NGOs’ work. It will be necessary to inform people not only about existing limits and levels, but also on critics of these limits and levels. Helpful are positive examples of countries which have lower levels, f. e. Austria with its lower reference levels for countermeasures sheltering and iodine prophylaxis.
For more information see also our report “Health effects of ionising radiation and their consideration in radiation protection”.