The NEA member countries’ experience built over more than one decade, from the practical implementation of the 2007 version of the international system of radiological protection has begun to raise questions regarding the most appropriate way to interpret these recommendations (ICRP 103). Specifically, understanding of what is meant by optimisation is changing, becoming more multi-disciplinary. Engagement with stakeholders for regulatory changes or for preparing and implementing the decision making process in various situations, has been shown to be essential, but has not yet reached a consensus view as to how it should be understood, regulated, and implemented. In addition to these structural issues, there is growing concern that radiological protection is not attracting enough new students and is rarely “career-oriented” through professional vocation. Related to all three of these issues is the need to continue research to better understand the possible biological and health effects of exposures to low-dose radiation.
A key objective of optimisation has for some time been to assure that exposures, and the number of people exposed, should be As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA), and that social and economic factors are taken into account. Although radiological protection experts are often asked to make recommendations as to what protection solution will give results that are ALARA, this is a multi-dimensional question for which radiological protection considerations alone are not sufficient. Other disciplines, such as social science and economics, are often needed to address prevailing circumstances that can cause extremely complex situations. Post-accident recovery is an example of this, where affected populations may choose between staying in their home, now in a wide area of surface contamination, or leaving for unaffected areas. This involves complexity in that elements to consider would include individual concerns, such as the affected persons’ employment, family status, the history of social and cultural events in the affected area, local government’s role in moving forward, local infrastructure aspects, patterns of leaving or staying, etc. It would also involve governmental choices, in particular of focus and resource allocation, of support for affected stakeholders, and of information provided internationally and nationally. Studies and programmes to prepare for such circumstances are being increasingly implemented. In the USA, the content of the NCRP Report No. 175 dealing with “Decision Making for Late-Phase Recovery from Major Nuclear or Radiological Incidents” played an essential role in the US national policy in 2017 where the optimisation process for setting clean up goals with stakeholders was published. Clearly, examples in many countries demonstrate that stakeholder involvement is critical to the success of recovery activities (e.g., setting goals for clean up, deciding on return criteria).
Approaches to engaging stakeholders, who find themselves in any type of circumstance involving ionising radiation and possible exposures to the public, workers, or the environment, are also being studied. Engaging with stakeholders to develop protection solutions for radiological situations is increasingly seen as being central to achieving solutions that are agreed and sustainable. Engagement to address many situations – such as the construction of nuclear installations, the management of radioactive waste, decommissioning, etc. – will need to be within a flexible legislative and regulatory framework, within which any type of situation can be addressed. The stakeholder engagement framework will need to address the roles and responsibilities of all involved, while providing guidance as to how engagement should be handled under specific circumstances. Regulations and processes for optimisation of post-accident recovery, with stakeholders, have for some time been addressed in France through the CODIRPA programme. Stakeholder groups, including the public living in the vicinity of identified installations at risk, local governmental officials, regulatory authorities and TSOs, and other relevant organisations have been working together to understand possible risks and to build plans for short- and long-term response. Another example is the Irish National Radon Control Strategy launched by the Ministry of the Environment in 2014, where a 10-year phase two started in 2019 to take into account stakeholder feedback on various radon-related topics.
In both of the above situations, addressing optimisation or stakeholder engagement, radiological protection (RP) experts are needed. However, there remains the persistent belief (validated through surveys) that the broad RP expert community is getting smaller as today’s RP leaders retire. Noting the “gap” in the education/experience “pipeline” that resulted from both the Chernobyl and Fukushima NPP accidents, both government and industry remain concerned over finding sufficient numbers of RP leaders. This issue is being addressed in an international context through a special session at the 2020 International Radiation Protection Association’s (IRPA) 15th Congress that will gather ongoing efforts and develop a collective way forward.
Radiological science continues to advance, particularly addressing whether low dose or low-dose-rate ionising radiation can cause adverse effects, such a cancer or non-cancer diseases. Radiobiology and epidemiology studies continue globally, but could use a greater level of co-ordination and collaboration. Ongoing work in Europe, through topical research platforms (e.g., MELODI for low dose risks, ALLIANCE for Radioecology, EURAMED for medical application) are models for the global expansion of research coordination efforts. Similar initiatives are also taken in North America (named IDEA initiative) and Japan (named PLANET).
Work in all these areas is designed to assist CRPPH Members in addressing these issues within in their own national context. Results will be offered to the international community as the consensus of the regulators and experts of the CRPPH, with stakeholder input, for consideration and use in the development of a new, modern system of radiation protection.
The CRPPH works in close co-operation with the Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC), the Committee on Decommissioning and Legacy Management (CDLM), the Committee on Nuclear Regulatory Activities (CNRA) and the Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI), the Nuclear Law Committee (NLC), the Nuclear Development Committee (NDC) and with other NEA Committees as appropriate.
New nuclear power plants ("Generation III+") are likely to be evolutions of current designs ("Generation II"). It is therefore expected that much may be learnt about the performance of new plants by studying current ones. In this context, an NEA scoping group studied the issues around best available techniques (BAT) for the abatement of radiological discharges from new nuclear power plant designs.
The NEA Expert Group on Implementation of New International Recommendations for Emergency Exposure Situations (EGIRES) met for the first time in January 2011 with the participation of six NEA member country experts (Finland, France, Spain, Switzerland, Japan and the USA) and four observers from international organisations (IAEA, ICRP and EC) and the European Platform on Preparedness for Nuclear and Radiological Emergency Response and Recovery (NERIS).
Many NEA member countries are facing problems with radiologically contaminated legacy sites and installations. There are many examples of how different legacy issues are managed in various countries, applying different approaches and standards. To address the need for more practical guidance on regulation of radiation protection at legacy sites the Committee on Radiological Protection and Public Health (CRPPH) agreed, during its 74th Meeting held in Paris in April 2016, to create the Expert Group on Legacy Management (EGLM).
The main objective of the EGLM is to promote a practical and optimised approach for the regulatory supervision of nuclear legacy sites and installations, taking into account the results of other NEA activities such as the Expert Group on Fukushima Waste Management and Decommissioning R&D (EGFWMD), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safety Fundamentals, the International Basic Safety Standards and the relevant IAEA guidance documents, the relevant existing and the new International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) recommendations, as well as the experience of good practice at different types of legacy sites.
The Expert Group on Occupational Exposure (EGOE) will build on operational and regulatory experience in NEA member countries, focusing on the use of existing databases to identify where and how operational experience can support the review and development of occupational radiological protection guidance and good practice.
The EGRPF will be responsible for managing the work of the CRPPH and its sub-groups as it relates to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. While this does not necessarily mean that the group will be responsible for performing the work itself, it does mean that all relevant work will be co-ordinated by the EGRPF.
The Expert Group on Radiological Protection Science at the Service of Stakeholders (EGSS) used the case studies already elaborated through the NEA Villigen stakeholder workshops to examine how, when science has been focused through the lens of particular stakeholder concerns, this has resulted in collaborative paths forward.
The NEA has established the expert group on stakeholder involvement and organisational structures (EGSIOS) to examine the organisational structures of radiological protection institutes with respect to stakeholder involvement. The group will focus on examining how resources are deployed, the level of senior management commitment to stakeholder involvement and training needs. This will be supported by Secretariat-led work to survey existing resources on stakeholder involvement and to address the support needs required for consolidating stakeholder involvement. Based on the results from these activities, the expert group will draft proposals for a series of workshops on stakeholder involvement. The work from the scoping group will be prepared for publication and the expert group's work may be included in this report.
The ICRP will issue new recommendations in 2006. In this context the CRPPH has decided to identify topics and areas that in the mid- to long-term future will (or could) have significant influence on radiological protection policy, regulation and application. To this end the Expert Group on the CRPPH Collective Opinion (EGCO) sought to build on the issues raised during the topical session held during the meeting of the CRPPH in March 2004. These discussions took in radiological protection, science, policy, regulation and implementation. In addition, in collaboration with the EGIR, the expert group assessed any possible impacts that new ICRP recommendations could have on these areas.The EGCO finished its report in 2007, thereby completing its mandate.
The CRPPH agreed that EGIS should survey currently ongoing projects in radiological protection science, and discuss the possible implications that their results could provoke. This should focus on projects expected to yield results in the short-term, the coming three to ten years. Based on this survey, the group should attempt to identify scientific questions that need to be answered in order to support the making or evolution of policy decisions. This should focus on longer-term projects, more in the ten to thirty year time frame. The 1998 publication Developments in Radiation Health Science and their Impact on Radiation Protection was used as a starting point. In finalising its final report in 2007, the EGIS completed its mandate and disbanded.
The EGIR has performed a thorough analysis of the draft ICRP recommendations, providing general and detailed comments on the wording, with the objective of providing constructive criticism to the ICRP. Each comment or proposed wording change has been accompanied by a rationale for the change.
The NEA Expert Group on the Public Health Perspective in Radiological Protection (EGPH) was created to explore this field. At its first meeting expert group members identified a range of areas that could be explored and decided to organise a workshop on radiological protection from a public health objective in 2009.
The ISOE was launched in 1992 by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) to improve the management of occupational exposures at nuclear power plants through the collection and analysis of occupational exposure data and trends, and through the exchange of lessons learnt among utility and national regulatory authority experts. Since 1993, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has co-sponsored the ISOE programme, thus allowing the participation of utilities and authorities from non-NEA member countries.
The CRPPH has long served as a forum for exchange and co-operation, to establish best practices, contribute to the development of the key recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and issue innumerable technical and policy documents that capture the state of the art of RP thinking at specific points in time. The NEA decided to develop a learning programme in order to pass on a deep understanding of the spirit of the RP system, along with how it is intended to be applied in diverse and newly emerging circumstances, and how it is evolving on the basis of lessons from experiences. The International Radiological Protection School (IRPS) has been implemented in 2018 and 2019 through a co-operation between the NEA, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) and the Centre for Radiation Protection Research (CRPR) of Stockholm University. Thanks to the highly appreciated support from the SSM and from Stockholm University, arrangements are in progress to organize the next edition of the IRPS at the same venue, during summer 2021.
Decommissioning of nuclear power plants is a subject of growing importance for NEA member countries and will represent significant budgets and industrial activities in the future. Through various joint projects of the NEA, much experience has been gained in the technical aspects of decommissioning and dismantling, including providing for the safety of workers, the public and the environment. However, a number of challenges and uncertainties remain, particularly in field of occupational radiation protection (ORP) during the decommissioning of nuclear power plants. A joint ISOE / CPD topical session on decommissioning was organized on 5 November 2014 to discuss a proposal to establish of a new joint working group with the primary objective to discuss trends and areas that need to be studied further.
The mission of the CRPPH Working Party on Nuclear Emergency Matters (WPNEM) is to improve nuclear emergency management systems within member countries, and to share its knowledge and experience widely. Within this framework, WPNEM activities focus on identified needs in planning, preparedness and response for the "early" and "intermediate" phases of a nuclear/radiological emergency (including accidents and consequence management for malicious acts), with a view to prepare appropriate recovery actions. The programme of work is developed in co-ordination with member countries and other international organisations.