Radiation Environment Management
IUR Task Group on Radioecology in arid regions
Climatic change is already happening and shows impact on the earth's environment like the melting of glaciers and the rise of the sea level. In the long term, however, despite the concrete actions that seem to be engaged following the COP 21 signature by almost 200 countries, temperature will continue to raise resulting in scarcity of energy and water resources, and leaving vast terrestrial areas becoming more arid and desert-like in many parts of the world. Agriculture and consumption habit therefore will have to adapt accordingly.
In addition, despite of the termination of nuclear energy production in some countries, essentially European, its utilization and the applications of nuclear technologies are becoming increasingly a cornerstone in the socio-economic development of many countries around the world. These countries recognize the potential benefits to be gained, and gradually implement nuclear methods and techniques e.g. in the petrochemical industry, medicine or research, like in China, India, the Arabic peninsula and the Middle East covering wide areas of arid and semi-arid ecosystems.
Whilst sufficient information about radionuclide behaviour and interaction with environments in temperate regions has been published and is available, there is little information on radioecology in arid areas. In order to be able to face potential deleterious impact of radioactivity accidentally released into such regions, it is important to construct the radioecological knowledge about transfer and impacts of radionuclides in such arid areas characterized by ecosystems and climatic conditions very specific.
Therefore, the IUR (International Union of Radioecology) is calling for interest in establishing a new Task Group on the transfer of radionuclides in arid environments. Its goal will be to address the risks associated in embracing nuclear technologies in light of the regional environmental peculiarities in those countries. A system to identify radioecologically sensitive regions under these special conditions needs to be established. This should be based on a number of components including a geographical database (GIS) of the terrestrial components and parameters; localized habitat, production and consumption, environmental co-factors such as climate; and the extent and type of radioactive pollution that could possibly affect the regions.
The ultimate aim is to create an EDSS (Environmental Decision Support System) for countries of arid and semi-arid regions, which will be able to integrate information in a spatial and temporal resolution to be combined with radioecological transfer models. This will allow the derivation of critical load maps and the identification of endangered ecosystems. In addition, it allows for the identification of critical pathways to protect the environment and humans from unexpectedly elevated and routine releases of radioactivity during the operation of a nuclear power plant, research reactor or any other nuclear installation in the medical or any other scientific field.
This project aims to build the foundation for a sound and robust EDSS:
To compile/collate existing global and local radioecological/spatial/temporal data for arid/semi-arid climates into a comprehensive database.
To identify gaps in the existing radioecological data and formulate methods to complete knowledge gaps
To identify relevant and related experimental studies to be undertaken to fill in gaps identified via the results observed from objectives 1-3.
To develop a preliminary/prototype radioecological model for arid climate (based on existing modelling software such as Ecolego™ for example).
The project will also need further an experimental work:
Establishment (if necessary) of laboratory and preparation of special equipment for experiments on radionuclide migration in arid soils.
Measurement of transfer of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM) and heavy metals from soils to local agricultural plants.
Investigation of the mobility of radionuclide in soil and in soil-plant system, determination of transfer factors.
Anyone interested in joining this Task Group and participate in the development of its activities should declare him/herself to one of the co-chairs, Gabriele Voigt and Natalia Semioshkina.
A Kick-off workshop has been held in Madrid from March 30th to April 2d, 2016, with 22 scientists from 14 countries who collectively set up a programme of work for the coming years.
See the Programme of work of the IUR Task Group on Radioecology in arid regions: Terms of reference and concept paper.
Download: Report and Presentation on Food Consumption Habits in Arid Zones