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Ionising radiation

Environmental Radioactivity - Medicine - Occupational Radiation Protection - Nuclear Hazards Defence

Ionisierende Strahlung

What is an emergency?

If a larger amount of radioactive substances is released, this is called a radiological emergency, which can have an impact on health and the environment. Radiological emergencies can be triggered, for example, by failures of technical components, by human error or even by natural disasters. The most widely known nuclear accidents that included massive releases of radioactive substances into the environment occurred in 1986 in Chernobyl (Ukraine) and in 2011 in Fukushima (Japan).

Radioactivity symbol, Sketch of a nuclear power plant, Truck, Satellite

Emergency scenarios

Radioactive substances can be released into the environment through various types of accidents. It depends on the type of accident which and how many radioactive substances are likely to be released and what impacts on the environment and the population in Germany are to be expected. More specific plans for radiological emergency preparedness are based on a variety of emergency scenarios: For each scenario, individual strategies to protect the population and the emergency services are developed.

Shoes in front of a line

Intervention reference levels

Intervention reference levels indicate what civil protective measures should be taken from what expected radiation exposure to man in the event of a radiological emergency. The dose of radiation a human being is exposed to serves as valuation standard.

Handheld measuring device used to determine the ambient dose rate in front of the Chernobyl reactor. The display shows a value of 3.04 microsievert per hour.

Emergency 1986: Chernobyl

The reactor disaster in Chernobyl in the Ukraine occurred on 26 April 1986. Large amounts of radioactive material were released which distributed over the northern hemisphere. The radioactive contamination in the affected areas resulting from this varied considerably, depending on the occurrence and level of precipitation during the drifting of the radioactive air masses. As a result of the Chernobyl accident many countries have updated their programmes for the protection of the population from radioactive radiation.

5 Phases

Phases of an emergency

A radiological emergency can be divided into several phases. Each single phase requires different countermeasures to protect man and environment against the consequences of the radiological emergency. One differentiates between the Urgent Response Phase (during an accident or emergency) and the Transitional Phase (after radioactivity has been released).

The last intact reactor unit of Fukushima Daiichi

Emergency 2011: Fukushima

On 11 March 2011 a strong earthquake and, following this, a tsunami occurred in Fukushima/Japan. Significant damage was done to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was impossible to manage with the available safety and security systems. The radioactive substances released as a result of this accident have contaminated air, soil and water in the area around Fukushima. So far, it has not been possible to evaluate health effects finally.

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