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Publications and reports : Environment

Report on the Radiological State of the Environment in France in 2010-2011

Publication date : 01/04/2014

Report on the Radiological State of the Environment in France in 2010-2011 marks another major milestone in the French policy of nuclear transparency. More than 300,000 measurement results were analyzed for this report, which also incorporates data acquired between January 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011 across France to take into account the impact of the events at Fukushima.

For the first time, this IRSN report collates and comments on the results sent to the French National Environmental Radioactivity Measurement Network (RNM) by its members. This includes the results of measurements taken by the IRSN as part of its continuous radiation protection monitoring activities.

This latest edition of the report includes a number of changes related to the inclusion of data from RNM members, as well as improved content. The RNM network is part of an innovative initiative to improve the quality of radioactive measurements performed by certified laboratories and provide the public with fuller and clearer information on the radiological state of the environment.

On February 2, 2010, environmental monitoring organizations in France created the RNM Internet site (www.mesure-radioactivite.fr) as part of an initiative to centralize information on radioactivity and make measurement results more readily available to professionals and the general public alike. The site can thus be consulted for results regarding all environmental compartments, including air, water, flora and fauna, and the food chain.

Download the report on the Radiological State of the Environment in France in 2010-2011 (PDF File, 32 Mo)

Results of the monitoring of radioactivity in French Polynesia in 2011

Publication date : 20/02/2013

Radiological monitoring of the French environment is one of IRSN's permanent tasks as part of public policy on nuclear safety and radiological protection. It helps to guarantee the best possible protection for the population.

Carried out in Polynesia since 1962, this monitoring focuses on seven islands (Tahiti, Maupiti, Hao, Rangiroa, Hiva Oa, Mangareva and Tubuai) which are representative of the five archipelagoes. It consists in taking monthly samples of various kinds from the different environmental compartments (air, water, soil, food, etc.) with which the population may be in contact.

Regarding food, the samples analyzed are representative of the diet of Polynesians living in the five archipelagoes of the region and are taken from the marine environment of the open sea, the lagoon environment and the terrestrial environment.

Almost all samples are measured at the IRSN Laboratory for the Study and Monitoring of the Environment, based in Vairao on the island of Tahiti, plus a few samples at the IRSN Orsay Laboratory. The year 2011 was marked by the Fukushima nuclear accident, which occurred on March 11. Within this context, IRSN stepped up its monitoring activities in French Polynesia and was able to confirm the absence of radiological impact in New Caledonia and Polynesia. This report does not include all the data and results relating to the accident, but provides a summary for the year 2011.

As in recent years, levels of radioactivity, which fell steadily as of 1974 when French atmospheric nuclear weapons testing came to an end, were stable and very low in 2011. The residual radioactivity is mainly due to 137Cs. In terms of additional dose, this artificial and residual radioactivity is lower than 5 μSv.yr-1 (5 microsieverts per year). This corresponds to less than 0.5% of exposure due to natural radioactivity in Polynesia (approximately 1000 μSv.yr-1).

Download the report IRSN PRP-ENV/SESURE/2013-08 « 2011 report on radioactivity monitoring in French Polynesia »

Can radon gas measurements be used to predict earthquakes?

Publication date : 04/06/2009

After the tragic earthquake of April 6th 2009 in Aquila (Abruzzo), a debate has begun in Italy regarding the alleged prediction of this earthquake by a scientist working in the Gran Sasso National Laboratory, based on radon content measurements. Radon is a radioactive gas originating from the decay of natural radioactive elements present in the soil.

IRSN specialists are actively involved in ongoing research projects on the impact of mechanical stresses on radon emissions from underground structures, and some of their results dating from several years ago are being brought up in this debate. These specialists are therefore currently presenting their perspective on the relationships between radon emissions and seismic activity, based on publications on the subject.

Download the information report  (PDF File)

Evaluation guide for the radiological impact study of a basic nuclear installation (BNI) as a support for the authorization application of releases

Publication date : october 2002

At the time of a licence application of effluent releases and water pumping of basic nuclear facilities (BNF), the operator of the installation must in particular provide a radiological impact study of the radioactive effluent releases coming from the installation on the environment and on pubic health.

An impact study of the radioactive releases represents technical and conditional specifications. It was for this reason that the French Safety Authority (ASN then DSIN) and the Directorate-General of Health Services (DGS) requested IRSN (then IPSN), in April 1999, to develop a guide facilitating the review of such a study, as well for the services implied in the examination of the licence applications, as for all the concerned parties in this field.

The objective of the guide is to take into account the regulatory context which underlies the development of the impact studies (decree n°95-540 of May 4, 1995, modified by the decree n°2002-460 of April 4, 2002, and the Euratom guidline 96/29 of May 13, 1996, known as “the basic standard guideline”, accompanied by its transposition texts in French law).

In this precise context, the guide proposes to assess the radiological impact study of a BNF from three different angles:
- the description and the quantification of the produced effluents, by taking account of the triggering processes, of the different processing measures and of the procedures to optimise the reduction of the produced effluents;
- the estimate of the dosimetric impact of the planned releases on the population, taking into account the environmental characteristics of the installation;
- the definition of the conditions to monitor the releases and the environment.
This guide provides a general condition logical framework adaptable to any particular situation met.

Download the guide (PDF file)

Long-term behaviour of radioactive nuclides in the environment

Publication date : 1999

Report of recent advances in Europe, regarding the long-term development ofradioactive nuclides in the environment. The corresponding scientific findings from three projects – Peace, Landscape and Epora (involving 18 European laboratories) – have been collected together. These projects were managed by the IPSN for the European Commission (DG XII) in the framework of the programme Sûreté de la fission nucléaire (Nuclear fission safety programme).

Download this book (PDF file)

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