How to monitor our environment?

For a radioactive waste repository or facility, the most important social requirement is safety, which shall be demonstrated by well-substantiated evidences. This expectation can be met by the operation of an appropriately designed monitoring system, and by the processing and evaluating the monitoring results. Measurement programs have been established and approved by the regulatory body, for monitoring the environment and the radiation conditions of the facilities.

Before commissioning the facility, so called reference levels, i.e. background values were identified in the environment of the facility. The values supplied by the monitoring system during the operation of the facility are compared to these reference levels.

These procedure is important for not just the Company, but also the local people, who have to know all of the information about the measurements of the sites. PURAM’s facilities have similar methods in connection with the environmental monitoring, but there are some differences which adapt to the local special activities.

RWTDF – Püspökszilágy

The environmental monitoring system of the RWTDF was installed in order to accomplish the environmental protection considerations. The purpose of this system is to ensure that the environmental impacts of the radioactive waste treatment and disposal on the site and any contamination caused by the work are detected in a timely manner. The sampling operations required for the measurements extend over the entire area of the site, and for surface water flows to a distance of 20 km.

The environment monitoring operations of the facility are based on the work of several laboratories. The most essential basic measurements are carried out by the own laboratory of the RWTDF. The special measurements and the identification of hardly detectable isotopes in the environmental samples are undertaken by contracted laboratories.

Vegetal and animal, soil, sediment/mud, aerosol, fall-out, surface water and ground water samples are collected on a regular basis typically from 40 different sampling locations by the environment monitoring laboratory of the facility for the purpose of gamma-spectrometry measurement and total beta counting.

Based on the measurements of the monitoring system, the population doses from the operation of the repository are below the detection limits. This fact has been also confirmed by control tests undertaken by competent authorities and independent institutes.

NRWR- Bátaapáti

The purpose of the long term environmental monitoring is to provide continuous information on the extent, regularity and trend of the impacts of the natural and artificial processes, that is, the environmental monitoring system serves the recognition and prediction. It is composed of three parts: the geological – hydrogeological, radiological and conventional environment monitoring.

The geotechnical (geological) monitoring system (seismoacustic measuring systems, deformation measuring devices) provides for the continuous control of the conditions in the subsurface area, while the control of the condition of the geological barrier around the repository is solved by the hydrogeological monitoring system (measurement of the changes in the water pressure, examination of the hydro-chemical circumstances).
The conventional environmental monitoring includes the measurement of the meteorological parameters, the survey of pollutants (dust, nitrogen dioxide) in the air, the observation of toxic trace elements in watercourse sediments (from the wider environment) and those originating from the traffic along the road to the repository, as well as the measurement of the noise level.

Regarding the results of the investigations it is evident, that based on the measurements in the environment of the repository the radioactivity didn’t increase following the decommissioning of the facility compared to the zero-level assessment. The results of the measurements confirm, that the discharge limits set by the authority are completely observed and the activity of the released radionuclides is by orders of magnitude less than the permitted limits. It can be stated, that the operation of the facility doesn’t cause any excess burden to its environment from radiological point of view beyond the natural background.

SFISF – Paks

Environment monitoring

The SFISF and the Paks Nuclear Power Plant are neighbouring sites, therefore the environment monitoring system of the SFISF has been integrated to the system of the nuclear power plant. Environmental samples are collected on regular basis from 22 fixed stations within a circle of 30 km around the nuclear power plant, resulting in 25000 environmental measurements a year. Continuous dose rate measurement in the environment is provided by the telemetric measuring system.

Radiation protection

The radiation protection system of the SFISF includes continuous monitoring, sampling and measuring the samples in laboratory, as well as personal dosimetric control. The operational dosimetric monitoring is supported by stationary dose rate detectors and aerosol monitors. In addition, hand-held radiation protection instruments are also available for the personnel. The radiation and contamination levels are very low as demonstrated by the measurements carried out so far.

A sampling system and continuous aerosol monitor installed into the ventilation chimney are monitoring the airborne discharges from the facility. The laboratory measurements are carried out, for the most part, in the own health physics laboratory of the SFISF. It is demonstrated by the discharge monitoring results that the annual cumulative liquid and airborne discharges from the operation of the facility are only small fractions of the relevant limits.

Nuclear safeguards

The fulfilment of the obligations undertaken in international conventions in relation to the control of the peaceful purpose of the application of nuclear materials and related operations requires the comprehensive control of the nuclear materials. Inspections are carried out according an annual inspection program by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the EURATOM and the Hungarian authority, the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority, but these organizations have the option to initiate inspections on a random basis as well. One of the most important fields of the inspections is the accountancy of the fuel. The accountancy shall ensure that the stocks can be identified at any time by a planned or random inspection. An inventory report is prepared every year and reports shall be issued on the changes in the inventory as well.

You can find more information about the average dose rates measured on our website or the website of the National Directorate General For Disaster Management.