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Radioactivity in the environment

The European Commission carries out verifications of arrangements for monitoring radioactivity in air, water, soil and foodstuffs in all EU countries.

EU countries are required to monitor levels of radioactivity in the environment. This can be extended to cover the monitoring of radioactive discharges from nuclear or medical facilities, as well as the provisions in place for radioactivity monitoring in the event of a radiation emergency.

Verifications of radiation monitoring

Verification targets are selected according to their radiological significance or public interest; the visits are announced to the country concerned at least 3 months in advance. However, in the event of a significant radioactive release, or other radiation event arousing public interest, the Commission can carry out a verification visit on short notice. Practical arrangements for the verification visits are described in Communication 2006/C 155/02.

Consult the verification reports

Recommendation 2000/473/Euratom provides guidance to EU countries on monitoring the levels of radioactivity in the environment for the purpose of assessing the exposure of the population as a whole. The Commission maintains a database of environmental radioactivity monitoring data. On the basis of this data collection, and in cooperation with its Joint Research Centre, the Commission publishes reports on environmental radioactivity in the EU.

Additionally, the JRC Radioactivity Environmental Monitoring group, set up in 1988, facilitates online exchange of radioactivity information among EU countries and the Commission through the European Radiological Data Exchange Platform (EURDEP).

European Radiological Data Exchange Platform

The Radioactivity Environmental Monitoring group, set up in 1988 to bring together, and store in a harmonised way, environmental artificial radioactivity data produced in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident, facilitates online exchange of radioactivity information among EU countries and the Commission through the European Radiological Data Exchange Platform (EURDEP). The platform is developed and maintained by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.

Releases of radioactive effluents

Nuclear sites, in particular nuclear power stations and reprocessing sites, are entitled to discharge airborne and liquid radioactive effluents into the environment on condition that these discharge operations abide by conditions and restrictions set in their operating licenses.

The radioactivity of discharges is measured, and the results must be communicated to the European Commission as this helps it to evaluate the exposure of populations and compare the levels of radioactivity in different EU countries. Between 1995 and 2008, the Commission published a series of publications on the release of radioactive effluents.

Radioactive Discharges Database

Recommendation 2004/2/Euratom provides guidance to EU countries on the reporting of discharges of radioactive nuclides. The Commission's Radioactive Discharges Database (RADD) compiles the information provided by EU countries. In order to provide a useful time span, the database also contains historical information compiled from 1995 onwards.

EU countries' experts’ meetings

The Commission organises regular meetings of EU Member States’ experts on monitoring radioactivity in the environment and in gaseous and liquid discharges. The agenda, minutes and presentations of each meeting are accessible in the links listed below.