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1.3 The EURSSEM approach

Five principles have been identified for the development of a consistent approach and guidance to conduct all actions at radioactively contaminated and potentially radioactively contaminated sites and/or groundwater up to their release for restricted or unrestricted (re)use:

  1. Protection of people and the environment.
  2. Stakeholder involvement.
  3. Identifying the preferred site management option.
  4. Immediate action.
  5. Archiving for future referencing.

These principles apply at various stages in site and groundwater management and are explained in more detail in Section 2, “Development of a strategy, implementation and execution program to remediate radioactively contaminated sites”.

This guidance on the management of a radioactively or suspected radioactively contaminated sites and/or groundwater has five interrelated parts and two major topics of concern. In practice, depending on case by case bases, the individual parts (in whole or partially) of the management process will be iterative.

The five interrelated parts of EURSSEM are indicated in Figure 1.1:

  1. Decide whether EURSSEM guidance or part(s) of EURSSEM guidance applies: Assistance is provided with the aid of flowcharts to decide which part(s) of EURSSEM guidance is applicable.
  2. Development of a Contaminated Land Strategy: Ensuring a clear context and objectives, effective external participation – stakeholder involvement – whether it is required by organisational policy or regulatory frameworks, to meet stakeholder expectations, or to improve decision-making [CIRIA-2005]. The part includes two major topics of concern:
    • Stakeholder involvement: ensuring an effective external participation, in order to improve the decision-making process, to develop approaches that can be implemented with community support, to improve transparency, to build trust and to take better decisions.
    • Archive for future referencing: this archive has not to be seen as a special part of the project file, but as an archive that will contain information that can be consulted in the nearby and long-term future for answering questions dealing with the former radioactive contaminants present at the site and/or groundwater.
  3. Characterization of Radioactively Contaminated Sites and/or groundwater: Measuring site-specific data on the levels and distribution of radioactive contamination and residual radioactive contamination, as well as levels and distribution of radio-nuclides present as background, by employing suitable field and/or laboratory measurement techniques1. Decide whether the data obtained from sampling do support the assertion that the site meets the release criterion, within an acceptable degree of uncertainty, through application of a statistically based decision rule [USNRC-2002].
  4. Remediation and Restoration: Decide about reuse and environmental restoration, selection of remediation technologies [IAEA-1999].
  5. Reuse and Stewardship: Monitoring, maintenance, information management, record keeping, archiving for future referencing, land use controls and other mechanisms necessary to protect the public and the environment from legacy waste deemed impractical, unsafe, or too costly remediate to unrestricted release [ITRC-2004] now and in the future [CIRIA-2008a].

EURSSEM presents comprehensive guidance on all 5 topics mentioned in Figure 1.1 for radioactively contaminated soil and/or groundwater. The guidance describes a performance-based approach for demonstrating compliance with a dose- or risk-based regulation. This approach includes processes that identify data quality needs and may reveal limitations that enter into conducting a survey. The data quality needs stated as Data Quality Objectives (DQOs) include performance measures and goals in relation to a specific intended use of the data.

Data Quality Objectives must be developed on a site-specific basis. However, because of the large variability in the types of radiological contaminated sites and/or groundwater, it is impossible to provide criteria that apply to every situation. As an example, EURSSEM presents methods for planning, implementing, assessing, and making decisions about regulatory compliance at sites with radioactive contaminants in surface soil and/or groundwater

Therefore, EURSSEM provides standardized and consistent approaches for developing a strategy, planning, conducting, evaluating, and documenting environmental radiological surveys, with specific focus on the final status surveys that are carried out to demonstrate compliance with clean-up and release regulations.

It is evident that the described approaches may not be applicable for each specific site so that the Data Quality Objectives will be met. Other methods may be used to meet site-specific Data Quality Objectives, as long as an equivalent level of performance can be demonstrated2.

Figure 1.1: The five interrelated parts of EURSSEM
Figure 1.1 The five interrelated parts of EURSSEM

For simplicity, in Figure 1.1 the iterative issue has been omitted.

Table 1.2, at the end of this section, summarizes the scope of EURSSEM. EURSSEM can be applied to surveys performed at vicinity properties, but the decision to apply the EURSSEM at vicinity properties is outside the scope of EURSSEM. EURSSEM main focus is on the release of sites, e.g., restricted or unrestricted (re)use, taken all radioactive contaminants into account and to give guidance to all stakeholders in this process.

EURSSEM is written to develop and to disseminate leading practice guidance from rendering a service point (not a regulatory point) of view to support clean-up efforts and the management of radiological contaminated sites.

1 Measurements include field and laboratory analyses; however, EURSSEM leaves detailed discussions of laboratory sample analyses to other manuals or guidelines.

2 The authors and organization that have developed EURSSEM would like to be informed about possible other methods and their specifications, so that they can be taken into account in future versions of EURSSEM.