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2.12.2 Objective and scope of the archive for future referencing

The objective of the ‘Archive for future referencing Principle 5’ is that it should be able to be consulted by the public and all stakeholders in the nearby and long term future for answering questions dealing with:

  1. Assessment of the eventual risk of any remaining radioactive contamination and/or remaining hazardous materials according to new insights about risk assessments developed in the future,
  2. The former radioactive contaminants and/or hazardous materials formerly present at the site and/or groundwater during the active industrial period,
  3. The remaining radioactive contaminants and/or hazardous materials present at the site and/or groundwater after the environmental remediation period and during an eventual stewardship period,

and in this way preventing costly new site characterization and environmental remediation projects in the future.

To fullfil the objectives of this archive, the content of the ‘Archive for Future Referencing’ has to anticipate, as good as possible, on knowledge that will be generated and developed in the future on health physics and environmental risk assessment of radioactive contaminants and hazardous materials. It is evident that at this moment no depiction can be made hereof. Therefore the archive has to contain unambiguous information about:

  • What type of industrial activities has been formely present at the site?
  • What type of industrial activities has never been present?
  • What type of radiological and hazardous contaminations has been formely present at the site?
  • What type of radiological and hazardous contaminations is nowadays still being present?
  • What type of radiological and hazardous contaminations has never been present?
  • Which amounts of radiological and hazardous materials have been transported and to which locations, e.g., other industries, waste storage facilities?
  • The quality of the archived information,

and thus leaving no space for different interpretations.

An ‘Archive for Future Referencing’ should be set up for each site so that information about contaminated land can be held in a formalised structure. This archive can be part of the record management system of the organization that owns or operates the site. The organisation responsible for maintaining the permanent records and the ‘Archive for Future Referencing’ should be clearly designated. Special attention should be drawn to the (physical) quality of the archive. Media used for data storage tend to deteriate rapidly (see Section 2.11).

It is advised, as it can be benificary and cost saving from the start of an industrial activity, to set-up such an archive.This archive will contain only approved quality assured and quality controlled data dealing with human risk and environmental impacts. An organization aiming at corporate socially responsibility will be eager to show – by means of the archive – that it did everything possible to take care of the environment and stakeholders. The ‘Archive’ could be subdivided by area for complex sites or where site responsibility is split up to cope with fragmentation of landholding for de-licensing or redevelopment.

Site owners should hold this ‘Archive’ that can be readily accessed and updated for the duration of their ownership of the site and pass the records on to new owners. This course of action should be maintained if no form of national system is established for keeping records of contaminated land in the long term.

Local authorities and environment agencies may maintain registers of ‘special sites’ and of other land that has been designated as ‘contaminated or hazardous’. These registers are mostly not suitable for keeping or maintaining detailed records such as in an ‘Archive for Future Referencing’, however.

Therefore, a ‘National Archive’ (NA) could be established to provide a ‘Public Records Place of Deposit’ where data of historical and local interest could be managed effectively and made available to as wide an audience as possible. Site owners should remain entirely responsible for the management of records on their sites, however.
A fixed structure for an ‘Archive for Future Referencing’ is proposed in the following sections.