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Significant measurement data in the event of an emergency

BfS and federal police force train helicopter measuring in the Greifswald area

Year of issue 2018
Date 2018.11.05

In the event of an emergency, the measurement of radioactivity is the basis for all further measures to protect the population. From November 6 until November 9, 2018, experts of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) and the federal police force (BPol) prepare for potential operations with helicopter measuring flights in the Greifswald area.

Main objective of this exercise is to find out to what extent the measurement results obtained from the helicopter measurements are comparable to data from soil samples. The BfS and the federal police force carry out measurement exercises on a regular basis in order to ensure good co-operation in the event of an emergency.

Basis for civil disaster control

Portrait Dr. Inge Paulini Dr. Inge PauliniBfS president Inge Paulini

"In the event of an emergency it is indispensable to know well the boundary conditions. At the same time all processes must have been trained. A major contribution is made by the jointly performed helicopter measurements.

The data and findings obtained provide information about the situation and form an important basis for the disaster control authorities for taking measures to protect the population," Inge Paulini, president of the BfS, emphasised.

Through air-borne measurements one can determine quickly and over large areas what radioactive substances have deposited on the ground, what areas are particularly affected in a nuclear emergency, and the level of radiation exposure to the population which can be derived from this. Furthermore, airborne measuring systems enable the detection of radioactive single sources.

Measurement flights in the Greifswald area

In the upcoming exercise it should be tested to what extent it is possible to radiologically map large areas with different flight procedures and to compare the helicopter measurements with ground data already available. This concerns in particular naturally occurring radioactive substances and depositions of caesium-137 which escaped after the accident in Chernobyl 32 years ago. Furthermore, the Greifswald site provides the possibility to check the efficiency of the measuring method because of the available facilities and the stored inventory.

The measurement flights take place in the areas of Lubmin, Dedelow and south of Greifswald. Two helicopters of the federal police force are used for the measurement flights. As part of the exercise, the areas covered by the measurement and the concrete flight routes will only be determined on the respective exercise day. Daily flight times are between 9.00 a.m. and 5.00 p.m. Flight altitude is at least 90 metres, flight velocity is about 100 kilometres per hour.

Years of co-operation

Already since the end of the 1980s, the BfS and the BPOL, respectively their predecessor authorities, have co-operated in air-borne radioactivity measurements: The BfS provides the scientific-technical staff and the measurement technology, the federal police force provide the helicopters including crews.

Joint measuring flights carried out on a regular basis, also with international partners, ensure the readiness. Within five hours, every location in Germany can be reached with a ready-to-use helicopter.

State of 2018.11.05

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