Launched in February 2011, the Strategy for Allied Radioecology (STAR) network of excellence, coordinated by IRSN, groups together nine European partners. The objective is to pool the knowledge, infrastructures and research efforts of the different partners involved in order to create a genuine “European research area in radioecology”.
STAR was created in February 2011 as part of the 7th Euratom framework programme for research and development, for a period of four and a half years, with a subsidy from the European Commission of 4 M€ out of a total budget of 8M€. One of the main objectives of STAR is to draw up a strategic research agenda over 15 years, which also includes requirements expressed outside of the consortium. The key aim of STAR is the integration, in other words the pooling, of human, financial and infrastructure resources in order to optimise radioecological research at a European scale.
Of the total budget, 64% is earmarked for research and development, 9% will be invested in training and 12 % will be used for sharing knowledge and data. Finally, the remaining 15% will cover management aspects as well as the integration and sharing of infrastructures.
STAR is organised into seven “Works Packages” (WPs), three of which are specifically reserved for research on the following priority themes:
Developing and proposing an integrated approach for assessing the radiological risk for humans and for the environment (WP3)
Examination of the relevance of taking into account the context of multi-pollution, which could modify the risk estimated for pollutants taken in isolation on account of interactions between contaminants (WP4)
Determination of relevant ecological effects for situations of exposure to low doses and proposals for associated environmental protection criteria (WP5)
Apart from the coordination of the project (WP1), the other WPs are integration with, for example, the creation of radioecology observatories (WP2), training (WP6) and the dissemination of knowledge and data (WP7). Furthermore, links will be established with other international research teams in order to progress more quickly in the acquisition of knowledge.
STAR is the result of a reflection that began with the FUTURAE coordination initiative (Future for Radioecology in Europe) of the 6th PCRD Euratom (2007-2009). The objective of this project was to establish an inventory of radioecological research and expertise in Europe and to evaluate the feasibility of the creation of a network of excellence. The alarming diagnostic regarding cuts in funding, the risk of facilities closing, the fragmentation of research teams and the lack of replacement of senior experts, in particular, led to the creation of European Radioecology Alliance in the guise of a letter of intention signed in June 2009 by nine European partners involved in the field. This alliance, which reflects the desire to pool knowledge, infrastructures and research priorities on a European scale, has enabled the STAR network to be proposed to the European Commission. In the longer term, the ERA Alliance will replace the STAR network.