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Contrôle review #195: Management of sites and soils polluted by radioactivity

Published on 01/11/2012

For professionals

Contrôle review #195: Management of sites and soils polluted by radioactivity

Eight years after the issue of Contrôle magazine devoted to the management of sites contaminated by radioactive substances, I wanted to take the opportunity of this review to shed new light on the changes made and the progress accomplished in this field.

As early as 2002, when the DGSNR1 was created, ASN was tasked with the management of sites contaminated by radioactive materials. Ten years after the first interventions on the former Bayard clock-making site of Saint-Nicolas d’Aliermont (76), it became apparent that an initial inventory of national and international practices was needed, in order to identify the major obstacles and the changes that were required. Jointly with the ministry responsible for ecology, ASN thus organised the first national symposium entitled “Radioactive contamination: how to deal with polluted sites?”. This symposium, held on 4 May 2004, demonstrated the technical, financial and psychological difficulties inherent in this subject. Various measures were however initiated, to allow even more transparent and efficient management of these forms of pollution, many of which constitute a heavy burden inherited from past practices.

I would like to mention the 2006 drafting of the first National Radioactive Materials and Waste Management Plan, highlighting the need to look for appropriate management solutions for radium-bearing waste from legacy contaminated sites, the creation in 2007 of the National Commission for Assistance in the Radioactive Field (CNAR), the November 2010 launch of Operation
Radium Diagnosis and, more recently, the 2011 version of the Methodology Guide published by ASN, the DGPR2 and IRSN concerning the management of sites potentially polluted by radioactive substances. This guide now aims to provide the various stakeholders with a common methodological basis for the simultaneous, joint management of all chemical and radiological hazards.

The tools and the approaches for the management of polluted sites and soils have thus changed, learning from the experience acquired by the public authorities over the past twenty years, moving on from action initially focused on surveying and securing the sites, to a more global management approach for the sites according to the established or planned usage. This global approach allows faster and more sustainable management of the sites, by involving all the stakeholders as early as possible in the polluted site management process.

ASN’s prime goal is clean-up that is as complete as possible, aiming for removal of radioactive contamination, in order to allow free usage of the premises and land thus cleaned up. However, when this objective cannot be achieved, the relevant evidence must be provided and appropriate measures must be taken accordingly. These management principles are consistent with the position statements or texts concerning all activities regulated by ASN, from basic nuclear installations (BNI) to smalls calenuclear facilities.

This issue of Contrôle magazine also presents the management doctrine for sites and soils polluted by radioactive substances, recently approved by ASN.

Jean-Christophe NIEL
ASN Director-General

Date of last update : 08/04/2015