Diploma of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
Diploma of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine




Грамота Верховної Ради України
Грамота Верховної Ради України

About the direction_radioecology

 Без названия2 The issue of radioactive contamination of the environment remains a painful topic for the population of our country. The tragic events of April 1986, which caused significant damage to the environment and adversely affected people's health, are so deeply imprinted in our minds that their echo is still felt every spring, when environmental organizations and government agencies receive a lot of concerned inquiries about the radiation situation. And objectively speaking, such concerns are not always unfounded. Suffice it to recall the high-profile events of the last decade - the Fukushima Daiichi accident in 2011, large-scale forest fires in the exclusion zone and the unconditional (mandatory) resettlement zone in 2015 and 2020, the release of ruthenium-106 radionuclide in 2017 from an unknown source outside Ukraine, and the explosion at a military training ground in the Arkhangelsk region of the Russian Federation in 2019 - which were accompanied by the release of radioactivity into the environment. It should also be borne in mind that the presence of nuclear power plants in the country and abroad poses a potential threat of radiation contamination of the environment in the event of an emergency.

 However, not every Ukrainian citizen knows who provides the public and government agencies with up-to-date information on the actual radiation situation. So let's clarify this issue.

Systematic radiation monitoring of the environment in our country has been carried out for many decades by the National Hydrometeorological Service of Ukraine, which performs regular observations on an extensive network covering the entire territory of the country.

 Although many people consider the beginning of radiation and environmental monitoring in Ukraine to be the sad year of the Chornobyl disaster, the organization of a network for monitoring radioactive contamination of the environment dates back to the 1960s. Its creation was necessitated by the need to assess the consequences of the use of nuclear energy in various spheres of human activity, primarily testing of nuclear explosive devices in the atmosphere.

The radiometric network of the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Service started with 16 observation points, and in the last pre-accident year it consisted of 188 gamma radiation monitoring points and 29 air pollution monitoring points.

The Chornobyl accident gave a new impetus to the development of the radiation monitoring system in Ukraine. The State Hydrometeorological Service, taking into account the experience of radiation observations in previous years, was tasked with assessing the state of radioactive contamination in Ukraine.

The Service's specialists took an active part in assessing the scale of the Chornobyl disaster consequences, identifying and clarifying the contours of radioactive contamination zones. The information obtained was used as a basis for developing programs of measures for radiation protection of the population.

Today, the scope of tasks of the Hydrometeorological Service in the field of radioecological monitoring includes nationwide monitoring of the state of the surface atmosphere and surface waters in Ukraine, as well as independent monitoring of the environment around operating nuclear power plants. The scope of permanent activities includes 163 gamma background monitoring stations, 51 stations for monitoring radioactive contamination of atmospheric precipitation, and 7 stations for monitoring airborne aerosols (excluding monitoring stations located in the annexed Crimea and temporarily occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts). Radiation and environmental monitoring of surface waters of Ukraine covers the Dnipro water system (Dnipro River, Desna River, Dnipro-Bug Estuary), the Southern Bug and Danube Rivers, as well as water bodies in the areas of influence of operating NPPs.

  One of the main tasks of radiation monitoring, in addition to tracking temporal and spatial changes in the characteristics of the radiation state of the environment, is to provide information support to public authorities for decision-making on ensuring an appropriate level of radiation protection of the population, preventing and minimizing the negative consequences of possible radiation or nuclear threats. To achieve these goals, a separate unit was established within the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Center - the Center for Forecasting the Consequences of Radiation Accidents, whose tasks include collecting, systematizing, analyzing observation results, forecasting radiological consequences of emergencies, including mathematical modeling of spatial transfer of radioactively contaminated air masses. In this context, the radiometric observation network of the SES of Ukraine remains virtually the only reliable source of primary data on the radiation state of the environment outside the NPP sites and the Chornobyl exclusion zone.

  Information on gamma radiation levels obtained from the Ukrainian radiometric network is transmitted daily to the EURDEP (European Radiological Data Exchange Platform) of the European Commission's Joint Research Center. This information is also uploaded to the databases of the International Radiation Monitoring Information System of the IAEA Incident and Emergency Center (IRMIS).

 Unfortunately, radiation monitoring is not one of the state's priorities. Over the past 30 years, the network has not been equipped with the necessary instruments, radiation monitoring and analytical equipment, and the ability of the Hydrometeorological Service to effectively perform environmental monitoring functions for radiation protection of the population and environmental protection has been decreasing every year.

Today, it is extremely important to develop a state program to create a modern automated radiation monitoring system that will finally allow obtaining data on gamma radiation levels in real time. Some steps in this direction are already being taken. However, this is only one stage of the upgrade. For a complete renovation of the radiation monitoring system, it is essential to re-equip analytical laboratories to implement modern methods for determining a wide range of radionuclides of artificial and natural origin that should be monitored in the environment in accordance with international radiation safety standards.

  Summarizing the long-term work of the Hydrometeorological Service in the field of radiation monitoring, it should be noted that during the existence of the radiometric observation network, approaches to the organization of monitoring have not changed much. Regular monitoring programs are still focused mainly on determination of residual radionuclides of Chornobyl origin in the environment. However, the situation with the current radiation situation in the country and potential sources of radioactive contamination of the environment has changed dramatically, which requires revision of the principles of radiation monitoring organization, as well as significant optimization of the existing observation network with emphasis on transboundary transfer of radioactivity with air masses and surface waters, observations in the areas of influence of operating NPPs, radioactive waste management facilities, uranium production legacy facilities, etc.

  At the same time, it is imperative to preserve the potential of the radiometric observation network of the Hydrometeorological Service as the only nationwide environmental monitoring system for radiation protection. The extensive observation network, regularity and systematicity of observations are an important factor in cases of emergencies accompanied by radioactive releases into the environment, to track the spread of radioactive substances in space and time, and, ultimately, for an objective assessment and adequate response to radiation or nuclear threats to Ukraine.

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