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Ionising radiation

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

Ionisierende Strahlung

In the event of an emergency

The reactor disasters in Chernobyl and Fukushima have demonstrated that serious nuclear accidents can happen. As it cannot be excluded that such incidents can happen again, a system of emergency preparedness for the protection of the population is necessary. In order to be able to take appropriate protective measures in the event of an emergency, the contamination (pollution) of the environment has to be forecast, measured and the resulting radiation exposure of the population has to be ascertained.

Two protecting hands

Protection of the population from radioactivity in the event of a nuclear accident

In the event of an accident at a nuclear power station, protective measures are intended to limit the radiation exposure (dose) of the population to such an extent that only a very low additional cancer risk arises. The competent Federal Länder (federal states) authorities for disaster control need reliable information quickly in order to be able to decide which measures are the most appropriate: What are the anticipated exposure levels of the population? How much exposure has already occurred?

Two heads looking in different directions

Coping with psychosocial problems in the event of a reactor disaster

In the case of natural disasters, for instance severe earthquakes or floods, the affected population carries a high psychological burden. This also applies to catastrophic nuclear accidents as in Chernobyl and Fukushima. Emergency response measures e.g. evacuation, relocation or decontamination measures are a serious interference in the lives of those affected and considerably impair their physical, mental and social well-being.

Sketch of a nuclear power plant

Off-site emergency measures

Should accidents occur in spite of all safety precautions, radioactive substances can be released into the environment. If in that case mandatory dose values for humans, so-called intervention reference levels, are exceeded, measures for the protection of the population have to be ordered.

People

How is the radiation exposure of the population determined after a nuclear accident?

In the case of a nuclear accident, the Federal Länder (federal states) establish emergency care centres in the affected areas after the passage of a radioactive cloud. People who have been in the area of the cloud can register and seek advice there.

Deutschlandkarte mit Ausbreitung radioaktiver Wolke

Emergency measuring strategies

To characterise the current radiological situation, comprehensive measurements according to the intensive measurement programme are instantly performed in emergency situations. The most important tools during the passing of a radioactive cloud are the automatic monitoring networks of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (used to assess the external radiation exposure (ambient dose rate)) and German Weather Service (DWD; used to determine the nuclide-specific radionuclide concentration in the air).

Decision support systems

In the event of an emergency it is vital to produce predictionsfor the radiological situation in a quick and comprehensible way. Within IMIS, two decision-support systems are available: PARK (short for "Program for the Estimation of Radiological Consequences") and RODOS (short for "Realtime Online Decision Support System"). With the help of these models, future environmental contaminations and the prospective doses can be estimated.

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