International Symposium EU-NORM I (Tallinn 05.-08.06.2012)
Shortly after passing the basic standards of radiation protection in 1996 (directive 29/96/Euratom) a first international conference regarding the topic of naturally occurring radioactivity in industry took place in Amsterdam. The purpose of this conference was to discuss between legislation, industry and affected stakeholders the implementation of regulations as to working with “NORM”, which was foreseeable upon the introduction of title VII of the basic standards. The great success of this conference led to a series of subsequent conferences (1998 in Krefeld, 2001 in Brussels, 2004 in Szczyrk, 2007 in Seville and 2010 in Marrakesh, Morrocco). Since 2007 IAEA has assumed the organisation and will continue the conference worldwide. NORM VII conference shall take place in April 2013 in Peking.
The amended version of EU basic standards will pose new challenges to the European NORM industry. For this purpose, a separate European NORM conference was set up, whose first symposium took place from June 5th to 8th, 2012, in Tallinn (Estonia). The conference started with the topical focus point of “Regulation” regarding current and future EU basic standards and international standards. Stéphane Calpéna (European Commission) presented the current status of regulations in his introductory speech. Besides considering NORM industries as planned situation, the most important modification as to the current basic standards is the introduction of a dose threshold level for radiation exposure to the population of 0.3 mSv/a.
Afterwards, R. Garcia-Tenorio (Spain) presented the “Spanish protocol”, a method to assess the radiological pertinence of NORM industries and A.-L. Södermann (Sweden) delineated the current Swedish radiation protection system for NORM. J.-F. Lecomte (France) provided an insight into the topical works of ICRP, which presently is preparing a series of publications regarding the existing situation (radon!), cosmic radiation in aviation and NORM. Other presentations focussed on “regulation” dealt with release, transport regulations of ADR which are obviously interpreted quite differently, as well as the new EU specifications for building materials.
The second topical focus point of the conference concentrated on radiation protection during work and on environmental protection. In an introductory contribution R. Gellermann (Germany) presented the German risk acceptance concept for hazardous carcinogenic substances and showed that interlocking of work protection and radiation protection is quite reasonable particularly for NORM. In a second comprehensive contribution H. Vandenhove (Belgium) presented the results of a project in which exposure of non-human species to radiation at phosphate industry sites has been assessed. The screening level of 10 µGy/h was actually exceeded at all sites. According to the approaches of the EU project ERICA and the indicated dose threshold level utilised in this paper, NORM industries would be highly pertinent environmental disturbers. Further speeches presented the results of examinations of residues of water treatment plants (J. Dilling, Germany; P. Jovanovic, Slowenia) as well as of input of Pb-210 and Po-210 into the ambient air and resulting exposure to the population (Chr. Tanzi, Netherlands). In her presentation, N. Casacuberta (Spain) showed which redistribution of radionuclides can be found in chemical industry plants and which radiation exposures can result from this.
Further topical focus points were use and recycling of NORM residues as well as radioactive legacies. In this context the possibilities of metal recycling (Chr. Ferrière, Germany) and immobilisation of mineral waste materials by means of a sulphate-polymer-cement (J.-P. Bolivar, Spain) were presented.
A comprehensive data base regarding radioactivity of building materials had been used in order to compare various index concepts for radiological assessment of building materials (S. Risica, Italy). Three presentations (St. Pepin, Belgium, L. van Velsen, Netherlands; P. Schmidt, Germany) dealt with radiation exposures on radiologically contaminated sites. The subject of another three presentations illuminated radioactivity and resulting exposures of “aquagenetic” materials, i. e. residues from water treatment plants (L. Juhasz, Hungary; C. Nuccetelli, Italy) but also from geothermal applications (D. Degering, Germany).
The conference concluded with a visit to Silamäe. There, one of the few European factories is located which treats Nb-Ta ores and produces rare earths. The site was established in the 1940ies as uranium factory and as such was operating until the 1970ies. A large tailing plant is dating back to this time, which in the 1990ies was classified as considerable environmental hazard by the EU due to its location close to the shore and its geotechnical instabilities. From 1999 to 2008 this plant was covered and renovated with the help of the German remediation company Wismut GmbH.
The next conference, EU-NORM II, will take place in 2014 in Ljubljana,Sloveniaa.
Rainer Gellermann (Braunschweig), Ulrich Quade (Krefeld), Rob Wiegers (Netherlands)