Since 1991, the IRSN carries out annual radioecological studies in the environment of the French Nuclear Power Plants. More than 5,000 samples, collected in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems around the 20 studied plants, have been analysed by low-level gamma spectrometry. This paper presents the main goals and methods for such studies, and the lessons learnt from 11 years results. The French NPP routine atmospheric releases do not lead to detectable radioactive inputs into their surroundings. For this reason, IRSN decided to reduce the number of analysis concerning terrestrial samples since 2000. On the other hand, NPP liquid discharges into rivers are responsible for the presence of low 60Co 58Co, 110mAg and 54 Mn activity rations measured in aquatic compartments. Radioactive discharges of artificial gamma emitters are also detectable in the Channel marine environment around NPP. Nevertheless, this influence is often concealed by radionuclides released by COGEMA-La Hague nuclear reprocessing plant. Beyond important evaluations concerning the presence of artificial radionuclides in NPP’s environment , studies conducted since 1991 give us an important database that can be used for a better knowledge of transfers and distribution of radioactivity through the environment.
* IRSN, DEI/SESURE/LERCM, Centre d'études de Cadarache. B.P. 3, 13115 Saint-Paul-Lez-Durance, France.
** IRSN, DEI/SECRE/LRC, BP . B.P. 10, 50130 Cherbourg-Octeville, France.
***ONECTRA, Centre d'études de Cadarache, bâtiment 153, B.P. 3, 13115 Saint-Paul-Lez-Durance, France