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BfS measures radioactivity in Oranienburg area

Exercise should provide findings about the removal of radioactive relics

Year of issue 2018
Date 2018.11.27

A helicopter flies low above a piece of woodlands Hubschrauber 2016Helicopter of the federal police force during a measurement exercise

Experts of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) and the Federal Police Force (BPol) train the measurement of radioactivity from a helicopter in the Oranienburg area. The joint exercise aims at helicopters and crews being operational at any time in a radiological emergency. At the same time it should provide findings as to whether radioactive residues from industrial companies stemming from the time before and during WW2 can still be detected in the municipal area of Oranienburg. The exercise takes place on 29 November 2018 from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.; flight altitude will generally be about 90 metres.

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. Together with the measured data, the geographic co-ordinates are recorded in order to be able to present the spatial distribution of the radioactive substances detected once the measurement flights have concluded.

Determine radioactive residues from industrial companies

From the air, it is possible to determine quickly and over large areas what radioactive substances have deposited on the ground. Two companies were located in Oranienburg that processed naturally occurring radioactive materials for production and research purposes.

As a result of the extensive bombardment of the municipal area of Oranienburg in March 1945 and the destruction of the production facilities, residues entered the environment, which have been removed step by step since the 1990s. Regular measurement exercises of the BfS and BPol have shown that most of the areas with enhanced radioactivity have already been remediated and that the gamma dose rate is only slightly increased.

Basis for civil disaster control

Joint measurement exercises generally serve to ensure the operational readiness in the event of a radiological emergency. The objective is to find out what areas would be especially affected in a radiological emergency and the exposure level to the population that can be derived from this. Furthermore, airborne measuring systems enable the detection of radioactive single sources.

On the basis of these measurements, the emergency response authorities of the federal states can take swift decisions as to the correct protective measures for the population. Within five hours, every location in Germany can be reached with a ready-to-use helicopter.

State of 2018.11.27

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