Pour information : (World Nuclear News)
EU proposes radiation protection directive
17 October 2011
The European Commission has proposed a new comprehensive European Union radiation protection directive (NDK : on veut bien y croire) that would take account of workers' exposure to both natural and artificial sources of radiation in a wide range of industries.
Brussels has acted upon 2007 recommendations from the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), upon whose expertise Euratom legislation is generally based. This latest guidance included new detail on any exposure "irrespective whether the source of radiation is man-made or natural."
These concerns have so far been addressed in separate, fairly loose EU legislation. This, said the Commission, gave "maximum flexibility" to member states to decide which industries should have natural radiation regulations. This has "led to wide differences in controlling industries and in protecting workers ... this situation is not compatible with Euratom's role in setting uniform standards," said a Commission memorandum.
It added: "A large proportion of workers in industries processing naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) receive doses above the dose limit for members of the public, but still do not benefit from protection as occupationally exposed workers. This anomaly is not sustainable." Furthermore, the memorandum stressed, "Exposure to indoor [ground based] radon ... is far more important than exposure from any other radiation source. Recent epidemiological studies have confirmed that lung cancer may be caused by exposure to radon."
In future, assuming the proposals are approved by the EU Council of Ministers, a new directive "laying down basic safety standards for protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation" would make it very clear which industries should protect their workers against natural radiation.
These would include the civil aviation industry; any workplace where there is exposure to radon; and industries processing materials with naturally occurring radionuclides. Protective controls outlined in the directive would kick in where the effective dose to workers is liable to exceed six millisieverts per year, and employers will be required to keep radiation levels under review.
Industries which process NORM include, specifically the mining of any ores (uranium is already controlled); rare earths, thorium and niobium/tantalum ore extraction; oil and gas production; titanium dioxide pigment production; thermal phosphorus; zircon and zirconium; phosphate fertilisers; cement; geothermal energy production; coal-fired power plants; phosphoric acid production; iron production; tin/lead/copper smelting; and ground water filtration facilities.
Another expansion of protection within the new proposed legislation includes controlling the recycling of residues from industries with naturally recurring radiation into building materials, and "coherent and harmonised protection against other building materials with enhanced levels of radioactivity." It involves banning the deliberate dilution of radioactive residues, other than the normal mixing of materials required as an integral part of a standard industrial process.
Meanwhile, Commission officials also want to take advantage of the review to simplify EU radiation protection legislation by incorporating some separate but related laws into the directive. This would include the Euratom medical directive, the HASS (high-activity sealed radioactive sources and orphan sources) directive, the outside workers directive and the public information directive.
The directive would not apply to radionuclides naturally contained in the human body; to ground level cosmic radiation; and aboveground exposure to radionuclides present in the undisturbed Earth's crust.