Index > 2 Development of a strategy, implementation and execution program to remediate radioactively contaminated sites >

2.2.3 Basic considerations about planning for remediation

Contents Introduction Justification and optimization of remedial measures Justification of remedial measures Optimization of remedial measures Remediation plan Radiological surveys Dose assessment Safety and environmental assessments Introduction

When a decision has been taken to remediate a radioactively contaminated site and/or groundwater, a remediation plan should be prepared. The first steps in developing this plan should be to determine and evaluate possible remediation options. These options can range from complete remediation and unrestricted release of the site to more limited remediation with some subsequent uses of the site being restricted.

The degree of complexity of a given remediation process may vary depending on site specific situations. However, there are several components of the remediation process that should be considered essential for any site being considered for remediation. Justification and optimization of remedial measures

Interventions in the form of remedial measures should be intended to decrease existing and potential annual exposures, by removing existing sources, modifying pathways or reducing the number of exposed people. For contamination resulting from past activities and accidents, the required level of remediation should be established on a site specific basis and in accordance with the protection principles that apply to intervention situations. These principles include the justification of remedial measures Principle 1 and the selection of the optimum measures among those justified Principle 3. In applying these two principles to derive an optimized option for protection, all relevant advantages and disadvantages should be taken into account. These include avertable doses (individual and collective), radiological and non-radiological risks, environmental effects, risks to the workers implementing the remedial measures, but also economic costs, improvement of the economic situation, the generation of secondary waste, as well as increased or reduced anxiety on the part of interested parties and social disruption arising during and after the implementation of the remedial measures. Justification of remedial measures

The remedial measures shall be justified by means of a decision aiding process requiring a positive balance of all relevant attributes relating to the contamination Principle 1. The justification principle should be implemented by means of an assessment of the overall radiological impacts from the contaminated sites, identification of options for reducing these impacts, evaluation of the reductions achievable in doses and in other harmful impacts and assessment of the harm and costs associated with these remediation options. Decisions taken on this basis should involve balancing benefits from the reductions in impacts and costs and other factors of influence. An informed decision should be taken on the basis of a full integration of all the advantageous and disadvantageous attributes for society resulting from the proposed remediation options.

Situations giving rise to potential exposures as well as actual exposures should be considered during the assessment. Optimization of remedial measures

The remedial measures should be optimized following the general approach to the optimization of protection in the context of practices Principle 1. The optimum nature, scale and duration of the remedial measures should be selected from a set of justified options for remediation. The aim should be to obtain not only a positive benefit but also optimized protection. The decision aiding techniques for deciding on the optimum remediation option are independent of the nature of the situation causing the exposure. Normally, there would be a range of justified remediation options for which the net benefit would be positive.

Some remediation options could involve restrictions on the use of the site, even when the remediation end criteria have been met. Such an option would, however, require institutional control as long as the restrictions are deemed necessary. Options that lead to unrestricted release of the site after the remediation criteria have been met have the additional benefit of not requiring institutional control or other regulatory burdens, and so should be favoured. However, site specific features such as topography, size of the site and lack of waste management facilities might limit the feasibility of a remediation option that leads to unrestricted release.

In some circumstances, remediation may be required to protect the present population and may be justified on the basis of attributable health effects among people in future generations. While in most cases the cost of remediation, in terms of aspects such as disruption and inconvenience, will be borne by the present population, remedial measures taken to protect the present generation should be designed in such a way that predicted impacts on the health of future generations will not be greater than the levels of impact that are acceptable today.

When the performance and costs of all remediation options have been assessed, a comparison should be performed to determine the optimum option. If this optimum is not obvious, the comparison should be performed using a quantitative decision aiding technique. The result of the application of quantitative techniques is termed the analytical solution. If, in addition, there are non-quantifiable, non-radiological factors to be taken into account, the analytical solution may not be the optimum solution. These qualitative factors should be combined with the analytical solution to determine a true optimum solution, after consultation with interested parties.

The optimization of remedial measures should result in reference levels expressed in terms of a residual activity concentration or dose criteria for the remediated site.

Remedial measures may remove all of the contamination, or remove only part of it, or may only alter the exposure pathways or the number of people exposed without removing the contamination itself. Depending on the expected residual dose, which can be derived from the expected effectiveness of the proposed remedial measures, associated restrictions should be defined as part of the remediation option, if necessary. The residual dose, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the associated restrictions, should be integrated into the optimization process. If the option includes on-site disposal of radioactive waste, the resulting exposure from this disposal option should also be taken into account.

Owing to time or resource constraints, general sources of information or default parameters may have to be used for modelling calculations. Sensitivity analyses should be performed within the optimization procedure to assist in determining when and where generic input parameters should be replaced by site specific values. Remediation plan

A remediation plan showing that remediation can be accomplished safely should be prepared for each contaminated site, unless otherwise required by a competent authority. The remediation plan should be subject to the approval of the competent authority prior to its implementation.

The remediation plan and associated monitoring requirements should be designed and implemented so as to identify possible adverse health and environmental effects of the contaminants and to optimize protection Principle 1. These considerations apply to the workers performing the remediation, to the public and to the environment.

To achieve the objectives of remediation, decisions should be taken concerning the schedule and sequence of the remediation activities; operational quantities (e.g., instrument readings corresponding to the reference levels); the criteria for the termination of remedial actions; and post-remediation conditions with regard to access to or use of the area.

The criteria for deciding whether to terminate remedial actions should be clearly stated so that remediation is not unnecessarily continued beyond the point at which it is justified and optimized Principle 1. As an integral part of any successful remediation there should be a clear understanding by the interested parties of the remediation end criteria.

Provisions for the post-remediation state should be addressed in the remediation plan. As remediation progresses, the plan should be updated to reflect any changes or provisions relating to the conduct and progress of the remediation.

The process of designing a remediation strategy should take advantage of lessons learned from similar remediation projects that have been completed in the past. These lessons learned provide both positive and cautionary advice. In effect, information on the failure of a particular method of remediation in certain circumstances may help to narrow the choice of feasible remediation strategies when planning new remedial actions.

The waste streams resulting from the remediation should be identified early in the planning process. The quantity and types of waste that will be generated should be considered during the planning to ensure that the waste management system will be capable of accommodating this waste. Radiological surveys

Several types of survey, with different objectives, may be necessary during the remediation process, e.g., detailed site characterization surveys, surveys during remedial operations and surveys to confirm that the objectives of the remediation have been achieved. The types and frequency of each survey should be discussed in the remediation plan. Provision should be made to allow changes in the type and frequency of surveys if situations arise that might lead to a change in radiological conditions. Dose assessment

A key parameter in any decision making process for selecting the appropriate remedial measures is the distribution of individual doses to the population affected by the radioactive residues on the site. The ingestion of contaminated foodstuffs or the inhalation of contaminated dust is often a major exposure pathway, and sometimes the associated doses cannot be measured. In such cases the doses should be estimated on the basis of model calculations, with input from the radiological monitoring program and with realistic scenarios.

The calculation of projected doses requires modelling of the various exposure pathways from an environmental contaminant to people. In general, the models used should be as realistic as is appropriate for making dose projections. Incorporating excessive conservatism can result in operational quantities being impractical or impossible to measure, or in remediation that is more costly than necessary. The models should readily be able to address all relevant exposure pathways. They should readily be able to use site specific data, and they should be tested or validated. Particular attention should be paid to matching the assumptions of the model to the circumstances under consideration Safety and environmental assessments

Both the radiological and non-radiological hazards involved in the various proposed remedial actions should be identified in safety and environmental assessments. They should include release criteria for the end point, dose predictions and risk assessments for each proposed activity associated with the remediation. The impact on the public and the environment of possible accidents or emergencies associated with the remediation should also be considered. The safety and environmental assessments should detail the protective measures that will be taken to ensure the safety of workers and the public and protection of the environment.
Specific consideration should be given to activities associated with waste management and their possible effects on neighboring States.