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Safety and radiation protection requirements

The hazard potential of a nuclear power plant in the process of decommissioning lies in the kind and level of its radioactive inventory and the fact that part of this inventory could be released during an incident. Removing the fuel elements of a nuclear power plant reduces the activity inventory to around one ten-thousandth of the original level, thus significantly lowering the hazard potential.

A range of technical and administrative measures ensure protection for operating staff, the population and the environment against inadmissibly high radiation levels both during normal operation and in case of anomalies and incidents. These measures include:

  • confinement of the radioactive inventory in systems and rooms in order to prevent release and spread
  • shielding measures to reduce radiation exposure at the workplace
  • individual protection measures for personnel, for example the requirement to wear special protective suits, gloves, overshoes and where necessary breathing masks
  • training for plant personnel and external staff
  • targeted ventilation at the plant and
  • filtering waste air and treating waste water to minimise the volume of radioactive substances that are permitted to be released into the environment in a controlled way in accordance with the official licence.

There is also close monitoring of the technically unavoidable discharge of radionuclides via waste air and waste water. Limit values for these discharges are laid down in the licences. In practice, levels fall far short of these limit values during both operation and decommissioning. Further safety aspects cover conventional occupational safety when dealing with chemicals, accident prevention, etc., which are relevant at every industrial installation.

Last update: 11.12.2015