EU legislation in the field of safety
The EU also supports radiation protection through legislation contained in a series of Directives. Across the EU, the current Basic Safety Standards Directive (96/29/Euratom) sets out standards for radiation protection in the Member States. The overall objective of radiation protection is to protect workers and the general public against the dangers arising from ionising radiation, resulting from practices using radiation or radioactive substances, including the nuclear fuel cycle. The Directive sets limits on the maximum radiation dose that anyone should receive under normal conditions. These limits are based on international studies on the effects of radiation and are set at levels to minimise harmful effects. In addition to keeping doses below these limits, nuclear facilities and radioactive-waste sites must work to keep any radiation doses received by the public and its workers as low as reasonably achievable.
The current Directive 96/29/Euratom establishes the basic safety standards. The provisions of that directive apply to normal and emergency situations and have been supplemented by more specific legislation. Council directive 97/43/Euratom, Council directive 89/618/Euratom, Council Directive 90/641/Euratom and Council Directive 2003/122/Euratom cover different specific aspects complementary to directive 96/29/Euratom.
- Council Directive 89/618/Euratom of 27 November 1989 (public information): This Directive sets out requirements for informing the general public about health protection measures to be applied and steps to be taken in the event of a radiological emergency.
- Council Directive 90/641/Euratom of 4 December 1990 (outside workers): This Directive covers the operational protection of outside workers exposed to the risk of ionising radiation. For example the employees of an independent builder undertaking work on the site of a nuclear installation.
- Council Directive 97/43/Euratom of 30 June 1997 (medical exposure): This Directive sets out the general principles of the health protection of people against the dangers of ionising radiation from medical exposures - for example in radiotherapy.
- Council Directive 2003/122/Euratom of 22 December 2003 (control of high-activity sealed radioactive sources and orphan sources): This Directive aims to prevent exposure to ionising radiation arising from inadequate control of high-activity sealed radioactive sources and to harmonise controls in the EU Member States.
A new revised Basic Safety Standards Directive was adopted in 2013 by the Council (Council Directive 2013/59/Euratom of 5 December 2013 laying down basic safety standards for the protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation and repealing Directives 89/618/Euratom, 90/641/Euratom, 96/29/Euratom, 97/43/Euratom and 2003/122/Euratom). In the new Directive related provisions of the four above mentioned directives have been updated and incorporated. This implies that the current Basic Safety Standards Directive from 1996 (96/29/Euratom) and the four above mentioned directives are replealed with effect from 6 February 2018.
Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the new Basic Safety Standards Directive by the same date.
The updated Directive broadens the application to the whole range of radiation sources and categories of exposure: occupational, medical, public and environmental. It covers the protection of:
- workers, in particular medical staff and workers in workplaces with indoor radon and in activities processing naturally occurring radioactive material
- the public, in particular from radon in dwellings
- medical patients, in particular with regards to the avoidance of incidents and accidents in radiodiagnosis and radiotherapy
It also strengthens requirements for emergency preparedness and response.
More details of the amendment and the new provisions can be found here.
The Basic Safety Standards are supplemented by the following two directives:
- Council Directive 2006/117/Euratom of 20 November 2006 (shipment of radioactive waste): EU operates a system of prior authorisation for all shipments of radioactive waste in order to provide greater radiation protection.
- Council Directive 2013/51/Euratom of 22 October 2013 (radioactive substances in drinking water): This Directive lays down requirements for the protection of the health of the general public with regards to radioactive substances in water intended for human consumption.