Both the Radiation Assessments Department and the Glasgow and Chilton Environmental Gamma capabilities recently participated in the IAEA's ConvEx-3 radiation emergency exercise. This was based on a hypothetical accident at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in the UAE.
The Radiation Assessment Department provides the secretariat to Joint Agency Modelling (JAM) - a partnership of UK agencies including Met Office, Office for Nuclear Regulation, environmental agencies and the Food Standards Agency amongst others that support the UK modelling of releases to atmosphere from radiological incidents as an input to SAGE.
The event began with initial notification from the RIMNET team (Radiation Incident Monitoring Network) before the JAM partners were alerted by UKHSA and an initial teleconference established to quickly gather an understanding of the situation and to agree the appropriate modelling to be carried out. Refinement of the situation was received during the day and this was reflected in an iterations of the modelling outputs to reflect both the current understanding and the potential for escalation of the incident if conditions could not be brought under control. The model output is used by the JAM partners to provide scientific advice to SAGE (in this exercise simulated by BEIS colleagues) including recommendations on appropriate protective actions ranging from sheltering or evacuation and administration of stable iodine to food and surface water impacts.
As well as ensuring that we maintain the skills required to support radiation emergencies, participation in such exercises allows lessons to be identified for continuous improvement of UK response arrangements.
Training course for ONR staff
A 1 ½ day course was held for ONR staff. The focus of the course was on the assessment of off-site radiation consequences covering topics such as public health advice for radiation emergencies and atmospheric dispersion models, PACE (Probabilistic Accident Consequence Evaluation Software) and SEER (Spreadsheets for Early Emergency Response), JAM (Joint Agency Modelling) and the Radiation Recovery Handbooks. These talks were given by staff from the Emergency Consequences Group but ONR staff were also interested in both internal and external dosimetry so we were able to draw on the expertise across the Centre. If you are interested in offering your staff similar training please get in contact.
PACE Presentation at Risk and Safety Forum
Tom Charnock presented an update on the development of UKSHA's Probabilistic Safety Analysis Code (PACE) and examples of its application. The theme of the CRA Risk and Safety Forum was considering Risk & Safety Challenges to support Energy Transition.
PGIRE Opening Meeting 9th November 2021
The Practitioner Group on the Impact of Radioactivity in the Environment (PGIRE), which is a group drawn from UK regulatory organisations, are holding an Open Meeting on 9 November 2021 to give those who have an interest in regulating or assessing the impact of discharged radioactivity on the health of humans and biota. If you are interested in attending please see the flyer and programme for more information or register for the event.
Anne Nisbet re-elected to ICRP Committee 4
Anne Nisbet has been re-elected for the current term (July 2021 - June 2025). ICRP Committee 4 provides advice on the application of the Commission's recommendations for the protection of people and the environment in an integrated manner for all exposure situations. Anne will be chairing a newly established Task Group 120 which will develop radiological protection guidance for small to medium scale radiation emergencies and malicious events. The recommendations will complement those of Publication 146 (ICRP, 2020) which focussed on large scale nuclear emergencies.
Continued collaboration with University of Reading on modelling urban dispersion
Emma Patmore, an MSc student of Applied Meteorology at the University of Reading, has completed her dissertation on "Modelling pollutant Dispersion Scenarios in Cities". This looked at street-network models to describe atmospheric dispersion in an urban environment. Model output was compared to measurements from wind tunnel studies and computational fluid dynamic modelling. Pete Bedwell was her industrial supervisor and Emma's work demonstrate the significant value of continued collaborative working between PHE and academia.
ADMLC Workshop on Challenges in modelling for emergency planning and response to contaminant releases 12 March 2020
UKHSA (as PHE) hosted a workshop to discuss the role and challenges of atmospheric dispersion modelling in planning, preparedness, response and recovery. The workshop focused on three different contaminant types: volcanic emissions, chemicals and radiation. Workshop attendees included dispersion modellers, policy experts and decision-makers. The presentations and further information can be found on the ADMLC website.
HERCA Working Group on Natural Radiation Sources 4-5 March 2020
Kelly Jones attended as a UK representative and also to give a talk on Clearance and Exemption of NORM in the UK. Topics discussed included radon dose coefficient, development of CE Radiation from Construction Product standards, development of HERCA document on clearance and exemption and plans for radon workshop on National Radon Action Plans 29 Sept - 1 Oct 2020 in Bucharest, Romania.
Update of UK Recovery Handbook for Radiation Incidents (UKHRI) underway
The UKHRI was first published in 2005. A major update is currently underway. The aim is to broaden the scope to include malicious events and new information on waste management. The Handbook will also incorporate learning from Fukushima and other non-radiological emergencies and reflect changes in international guidance as well as national legislation. The work is being done collaboratively with other UK Government Departments and Agencies with relevant expertise in food and drinking water safety, waste management and remediation. A series of stakeholder workshops will be undertaken to trial the new handbooks.
New PHE assessment of the risks from radioactive objects in the environment near to the Sellafield site
UKHSA (as PHE) has completed an assessment of the risks to health posed by radioactive objects in the environment near to the Sellafield site. That assessment is described in two reports: one report (PHE-CRCE-056) provides a summary of the assessment whilst a second report (PHE-CRCE-057) describes the methodology used. PHE advise that, based on their assessment, the risks from radioactive objects in the environment near to the Sellafield site are very low and that measures to control them are not warranted on public health grounds.
Legacy Workshop 29 Oct - 1 Nov, Tromso, Norway
Wayne Oatway and Darren Bungay from UKHSA attended a workshop on the process of optimisation in decommissioning and in the management of legacy sites and radioactive waste. It brought together over 60 participants from 17 countries. The key lessons were the need for regulations not to be overly prescriptive; importance of stakeholder engagement to achieve long term acceptance; and having a holistic approach to all risks present, such as chemicals and building and demolition risks. A full report on the workshop, to be published early in 2020, is being prepared by DSA.
Plenary meeting of IAEA MODARIA II Programme, 21 - 24 Oct, Vienna, Austria
Tiberio Cabianca chaired the finally plenary meeting of the IAEA MODARIA II Programme. Bringing together environmental modellers from around the world, from government, academia, nuclear industry, and research organisation; the working groups of MODARIA II cover a wide range of areas including urban contamination and clean-up, long term geological disposal of nuclear waste, assessment of doses from contaminated land, and dose to non-human biota. Also attending from UKHSA were Tracey Anderson (shown here demonstrating the UKHSA PC-CREAM radiation assessment programme) and Tom Charnock who is heavily involved in the urban clean-up group
Staff take part in IAEA Mission
UKHSA staff have been working with colleagues across government to prepare for and participate in a wide ranging review by the IAEA of the UK arrangements for managing radiation and nuclear safety. Tiberio Cabianca, Wayne Oatway and Neil McColl (pictured) attended interviews and supported colleagues from government departments and regulators in describing our role in these arrangements on topics including medical radiation, environmental radioactive contamination and radon. A final report will be issued by the IAEA in a few months.
NORM IX conference
Kelly Jones attended the NORM IX conference acting as conference rapporteur on behalf of IAEA. The conference covered wide range of topics including discussions on the change in the ICRP value for the radon dose conversion factor, challenges in the transportation of NORM and potential reuse of NORM residues. The talks are on ORPNET and the conference proceedings will be available next year.
The 19th International Symposium on the Packaging and Transportation of Radioactive Materials was held in August and brought together stakeholders and experts on the packaging and transportation of radioactive materials. There were presentations and discussions from participants on subjects related to the transport of radioactive materials, such as the design of shipping casks, reassuring nearby populations and the update of regulations. PHE staff (Tiberio Cabianca and Iain Brown) gave two presentations on the updating the A1 and A2 values, which are given in IAEA transport regulations and are the activity limits for type A packages.
23rd Nuclear Medical Defence Conference, 13 - 16 May, Munich, Germany
Anne Nisbet gave a presentation on the 'Application of the Radiological Protection System in Post-Accident Situations - An update on ICRP Publications 109 and 111' in the Key Session on Living in Contaminated Areas.
New PHE report on estimating resuspension doses in emergency situations
New publication on public health protection in radiation emergencies
Staff, particularly Anne Nisbet, have been working hard over the past few years on a report report to update and consolidate existing advice, accounting for international requirements and lessons learned from the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Advice is given on two types of dose criteria: emergency planning thresholds of dose for guiding decisions on actions to avoid deterministic effects; and sets of other dose criteria, such as Emergency Reference Levels (ERLs), to optimise protection against lower levels of exposures from the early phase of an emergency through to the long-term. As the response phase transitions to recovery, non-radiological criteria play an increasingly important role in optimising protection.
Annual meeting of NEA Committee on Radiological Protection and Public Health (CRPPH)
This was held in Paris from 27-29 March 2019. Antony Bexon attended as part of the UK delegation with colleagues from the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency. CRPPH covers a wide range of topics and provides an opportunity to direct the work programme of the NEA in RP issues. Particular focus this year related to consideration of non-radiological aspects in post-accident public health, working to clarify understanding of the term 'risk' in RP, a topical session on the importance of stakeholder dialogue in sharing understanding and managing radiological risks.
Annual NERIS workshop
ERAS staff contributed to the annual NERIS workshop in Roskilde Denmark. NERIS is European forum for authorities; technical support organisations; operators; professional organisations; research institutes; and other stakeholders with an interest in Nuclear Emergency Management. Presentations included everything from innovative atmospheric dispersion and dose assessment solutions to real life experience of societal risks and uncertainties pertaining in nuclear emergency management.
TERRITORIES workshop in Oxford
A workshop was held in Oxford on 19/20th March on 'Assessing risks from radioactive legacy sites and how to better present uncertain information '. PHE helped organise the event with over 100 attendees taking part. More information can be found on here
Munich workshop on ensemble analysis and visualization
PHE are participating in a European Project titled CONFIDENCE (COping with uNcertainties For Improved modelling and DEcision making in Nuclear emergenCiEs). PHE are working on aspects related to model improvement in the pre-and release phase, through uncertainty analysis and propagation with an ensemble approach. What is meant by an ensemble approach? This is predominantly where model input parameters are perturbed to account for the associated uncertainties and the resulting model output is then assessed to better understand the uncertainties on endpoints used in the provision of advice. The February workshop spent significant time discussing potential methods for operationalising an ensemble approach (to describe uncertainty in emergency assessments); a task that Peter Bedwell will lead.
IAEA's MODARIA II Third Meeting
The IAEA hosted, on 22-25 October 2018, the Third Technical Meeting on the Development, Testing and Harmonization of Models and Data for the Radiological Impact Assessments (MODARIA II). The four-day meeting brought together over 150 experts, including regulators, scientists, operators and experts from technical support organizations, from 40 countries where they analysed the progress made under the programme and discussed questions on modelling environmental radiation. Tiberio Cabianca, who is the chair, said in his report of the meeting that 'it is important that we already start the process to formulate a general plan for future IAEA activities in the area of environmental protection. The objective of MODARIA to provide a platform for experts to discuss and exchange information on the topic of radiological impact assessment will continue to be a fundamental aim of any future programme and I believe we can strengthen the contribution that the MODARIA community of experts can make to not only the IAEA Nuclear Safety programme but also to the activities of other international organizations.'
Work in support of REPPIR 2019
Following on from the work that PHE has previously done for BEIS in developing a methodology for the forthcoming REPPIR 2019 Schedule 1 values, a new project has been started to support lower risk sites. The project objectives are to develop datafiles of environmental concentrations per unit release and dose per unit release, for application within REPPIR 2019, to support the consequence assessment requirements of the new regulations
New IAEA publications
The IAEA has recently published three related safety standards on Radiation Protection of the Public and the Environment (GSG-8), Regulatory Control of Discharges to the Environment (GSG-9) and Prospective Radiological Environmental Impact Assessment for Facilities and Activities (GSG-10). PHE staff, Tiberio Cabianca and Kelly Jones, were both involved in the discussions and drafting of the documents with IAEA staff.
Collaboration on population spatial estimates
The University of Southampton is working with Tom Charnock to bring their Pop24/7 approach for generating very high temporal and spatial estimates of population into operational use at PHE. The approach goes beyond census information and uses additional sources such as education, work place and transport data to allow population to be estimated for different times of day, day of week and day of year.