The need for a system to protect the environment from ionising radiation is now generally recognised and there has been a considerable international and national effort on this issue over the last decade. The focus has been on collating relevant information and developing approaches to enable regulatory assessments. Alongside this, there has been extensive consultation with stakeholders. Validation and comparison of the radioecological and dosimetry components of various approaches has begun. However, it is important that the approaches used are practicable, credible to stakeholders and appropriate to use in any future regulatory context. Concerns have been expressed both from some members of the nuclear industry and the scientific community that the developing approaches may lead to costly regulation.
To evaluate the practicability and relative merits of different approaches to protection of the environment from ionising radiation and to compare these with methods used for non-radioactive contaminants the co-ordination action has completed the following tasks:
• Consult within Europe and the broader international community with industry and regulators to review regulatory instruments, procedures, underlying principles and criteria currently applied to environmental protection from both chemical and radioactive substances. A critical review will identify similarities and differences in approaches for chemicals and radioactive substances, evaluating the extent to which these fulfil the objectives of environmental protection.
• Comparatively evaluate the existing/developing approaches to assess their practicability in a regulatory context, assessing their relative merits in terms of complexity, fitness for purpose, cost and robustness.
• Consider appropriate numerical benchmark values, designed to assure compliance to environmental protection goals that are consistent with protective goals for releases of other hazardous substances.