IRSN, Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire

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Enhancing Nuclear Safety



RADIOACTIVE POLLUTANTS - Impact on the environment

François BRÉCHIGNAC and Brenda J. HOWARD EDP Sciences, Les Ulis (France). collection irsn. 2001 341 p


Since the early forties, radioecology has, often in an emergency situation, been faced with the need to evaluate the impact that the military or civil use of nuclear energy has had on the environment. Radioecology developed in parallel with other ecological disciplines especially ecotoxicology, in part through the use of tracers. Radioecologists have aimed to understand processes controlling the environmental transfer of radionuclides and to integrate them into predictive models as well as engineering and restoration techniques. Experience of providing radioecological methods to mitigate the effects of accidents has emphasized the importance of the concept of sustainable development. It has also contributed to the recognition of a second key concept, the precautionary principle, and its practical application in the environment. On the threshold of the 21st century, radioecologists have needed to take stock of the situation and to widen their perspectives. In response to this need, irsn decided to gather a worldwide assembly by organizing the ECORAD 2001 Conference. This book collates a series of invited contributions at this conference which reflect on on going discussions and provide reviews of the most up to date scientific and technical information regarding continental and estuarine environments. Within this context, and further to defining the current state of the art, the papers also identify possible research themes for the future along with scientific and ethical issues which are becoming increasingly important in response to public concern with respect to environmental radioprotection. Continuing previous similar publication achievements, which particularly focused on the marine environment, irsn has decided quite naturally to edit this document within its Book series dedicated to radiological protection and nuclear safety. This complements a former publication dedicated to Radionticlides in the Oceans, (P. Guéguéniat, P. Germain and H. Métivier, Eds., EDP Sciences, Les Ulis, 1996). The focus here is now on continental and estuarine environments which are addressed through four major chapters. Part 1 addresses the general environmental issues, encompassing radioactivity measuring methods, toxicants impact on the environment either in chronicle or accidental situations, and environmental radioprotection. Parts 2 and 3 refer to the state of the art in terrestrial and freshwater aquatic environments, respectively, and part 4 concludes by addressing the important societal and ethical issues. It is of importance to recall that the production of this book, achieved within a very tight schedule, has been made possible by the very deep and scrupulous involvement of a number of international experts and professionals, within and outside IRSN, who enthusiastically dedicated their time to the number of tasks requested. They all deserve our gratitude, with especial acknowledgements to authors, and also to reviewers. The readers should bear in mind that this book only forms the starter of the ECORAD 2001 conference meal. The remaining scientific matter which has been selected as high quality and relevant by the Scientific Committee will be further published as Proceedings of the conference in the Radioprotection Colloquium series as we did in 1997 with part 1 of the RADOC conference (Radionuclides in the Oceans RADOC 96-97, Proceedings Part 1, Inventories, Behaviour and Processes, Octeville, 7-11 October 1996, Radioprotection colloques, 32, C2, April 1997). Finally, it is with a great pleasure that we want to warmly thank all involved scientists and experts themselves, from students to leaders. They are those who dedicate their time, and often their life, to continuously improving the understanding of our common world to the benefit of humankind.


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