2 October 2023

How is a radiological situational report produced?

Exchange between national and international partners of the sampling and measurement organisation at the NBC Centre in Spiez

The sampling and measurement organisation has the task of quickly providing measurement data to record the radiological situation in the event of a hazard due to increased radioactivity. In the event of an incident, it is vital that the partner organisations involved cooperate efficiently, including in the preparation phase. An exchange between national and international specialist agencies is also important in this initial phase in order to further develop the sampling and measurement organisation in Switzerland.

A national meeting of the sampling and measurement organisation took place at the NBC Centre in Spiez on 7 September. Around 90 participants from 20 specialised agencies exchanged views on topics such as data collection and analysis, and on various measurement methods.

The meeting started with short presentations of the different organisations present:

This was followed by the various tasks of the specialised agencies being shown in rotation in detail:

The 11th International Airborne Radiometry Technical Exchange was held to faciliate the exchange with international partners with around 60 participants from 16 nations. This week-long expert conference took place for the first time in Switzerland and was held at the NBC Centre in Spiez. The focus of this exchange was the transfer of knowledge in the field of aerial radiometry (measurement of radioactivity on the ground from the air) and preparations for joint exercises and training. The meeting provided an opportunity to update each other on the latest developments and best practices regarding aerial radiometry. From innovative technologies to best practices for accurate data collection, participants gained valuable knowledge to further develop their own practice.

Organisation of sampling and measurement in Switzerland

The NEOC operates the Automatic Dose Alarm and Monitoring Network NADAM (NEOC radioactivity readings) in order to permanently monitor large-scale external radiation. The URAnet aero and aqua monitoring networks of the Federal Office of Public Health FOPH monitor the concentrations of the various radionuclides present in the air and in river water respectively. The FOPH also maintains a network of high-volume filters for trace analysis of radioactivity in the air (HVS). The Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate ENSI operates an automatic dose-rate monitoring system (MADUK monitoring network) in the vicinity of nuclear facilities.

Graphic: NEOC

Aerial radiometry – the measurement of radioactive radiation near the ground from the air – can be used to supplement the existing measurement networks and is carried out in collaboration with the Swiss Air Force under the direction of the NEOC. Cases where such measurements need to be taken are incidents in nuclear power plants, transport and industrial accidents involving radioactive material, satellite crashes and thefts of radioactive material.

Graphic: NEOC

In a radiological emergency, the NEOC is responsible for deploying and coordinating the measurement organisation and can deploy additional measurement equipment on an ad hoc basis, such as aerial radiometry, mobile probes to intensify the monitoring network, measurement teams to collect grass, soil and water samples, and special vehicles with built-in detectors.

The analysis of environmental samples is usually carried out and validated by specialised laboratories, whereas those of food and feed are carried out by cantonal laboratories. In the event of an incident, additional mobile laboratories can be put into operation.

Graphic: NEOC

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