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Ionising radiation

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

Ionisierende Strahlung

Off-site emergency measures

  • The central task of the BfS in off-site emergency preparedness is the timely prognosis and determination of contamination of the environment and the resulting radiation exposure of the population. All measures for human and environmental protection are based on these analyses.
  • On account of Germany's federal structure, the Federal Länder (federal states) are exclusively competent for disaster control.
  • It is the task of the Länder to decide on disaster control measures.
  • The ordered measures are implemented with the assistance of the police, the fire brigades, the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) and similar institutions.

In order to prevent radiological impacts on the environment, the operators of nuclear installations have to ensure highest safety standards in preventive measures for on-site emergency preparedness.

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. These disaster control measures include

  • staying indoors,
  • evacuation,
  • relocation and
  • the intake of iodine tablets.

They are relevant in the vicinity of an installation. On account of Germany's federal structure, the Federal Länder (federal states) are exclusively competent for disaster control.

Complementary precautionary radiation protection measures include, among other things, laying down maximum permitted levels of contamination in food which are also applicable even at great distances.

Task of the BfS in off-site emergency preparedness

The central task of the BfS in off-site emergency preparedness is the timely prognosis and determination of contamination of the environment and the resulting radiation exposure of the population. All measures for human and environmental protection are based on these analyses.

In the event of accidental radioactive contamination of the environment, measures to reduce human exposure to radiation have to be taken. It is the task of the BfS to determine and to characterise the radiological situation in a timely manner for this purpose. In the process, especially the following questions have to be answered:

• Which areas are affected?
• Which radionuclides play a role and how high are their activities in the environment?
• What are the resulting levels of radiation exposure of the population?

The level of anticipated radiation exposure is decisive for the measures to be taken.

Tasks of the Länder and of the Federal Government within the framework of disaster control

During the early phase, which extends from the time the accident occurs to the beginning of a release of radioactive substances to its end, it is the task of the Länder to decide on disaster control measures.

The first decision that has to be made is whether and where the population is advised to go indoors and to close windows and doors in order to reduce the dose from external radiation and inhalation. Should this not be sufficient, the affected population has to be evacuated. At the same time it has to be decided, in which areas the intake of iodine tablets is to be recommended especially for children and pregnant women in order to prevent thyroid carcinoma.

In the later phase, after the radioactive cloud has passed and there are only traces of radioactive substances in the air, measures are aimed at reducing or completely avoiding radiation exposure due to radioactive material on the ground and due to the ingestion of radionuclides through food. To this end, a set of measures which points out possible measures and discusses their advantages and disadvantages has been defined.

They also include so-called soft measures such as recommendations on the decontamination of surfaces and objects or recommendations on behaviour. These are made by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).

Three pillars of emergency preparedness

The three pillars of emergency preparedness result from the above-mentioned statements which apply to any type of contamination of the environment:

  • Determination of the radiological situation.
  • Decision on measures by comparing the anticipated dose with the intervention reference levels.
  • Implementation of measures.

The ordered measures are implemented with the assistance of the police, the fire brigades, the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) and similar institutions.

State of 2016.07.08

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