Index > 1 Introduction to EURSSEM >

1.1 Background

Radioactive materials have been produced, processed, used, and stored at thousands of sites in Europe and all over the world. Many of these sites – ranging in size from nuclear activities, e.g., power production, weapons-production facilities covering tens of square kilometres, industrial sites, to the nuclear medicine departments of small hospitals, research institutes (sometimes accidental) – were at one time, or are now radioactively contaminated.

The owners and managers of a number of sites would like, or are obliged to determine if these sites are radioactively contaminated, to remediate the sites if contaminated, and to release the sites for restricted use or for unrestricted public use.

In most countries different national agencies are involved in these processes and are responsible for the release of sites following clean-up. These involvements and responsibilities apply to facilities under the control of institutes or private/national companies or national agencies like Department of Defenses.

To provide a consistent guidance and best practices to involved participants (stakeholders), important documents have been produced by different organizations, like:

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency.
  • The SAFEGROUNDS Learning Network that uses participatory approaches to develop and disseminate good practice guidance for the management of contaminated land on nuclear and defence sites in the United Kingdom.
  • The Multi-Agency Radiation Survey and Site Investigation Manual, which is the product of a multi US agency workgroup with representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). In the mission of these agencies is stated that they have:
    • To improve, preserve and protect the quality of the environment, on both national and global levels.
    • To ensure adequate protection of public health and safety, security, and the environment in the use of certain radioactive materials.
  • The Interstate Technology Regulatory Council U.S.

The different approaches caused by the various missions of the above organizations can be recognized in their documents.

EURSSEM incorporates information provided in the documents of the above mentioned organizations and acknowledges the importance and the quality of the information and know-how presented in their documents. In EURSSEM, references are included to these documents as consistent as possible and all documents are mentioned in the Section “References”.