What is it for ?
The EAN produces a regular ALARA Newsletter, widely distributed (especially in Europe), to provide a link between all those concerned with ALARA, mainly the health physicists, but also the managers, the radiation protection organisations, the research bodies, the regulatory bodies, the trade union representatives and the medical doctors. This Newsletter intends to reflect some major aspects of the ALARA life in Europe: evolution of regulations and judicial precedents, results of research, description of existing databases, analyses of dosimetric data, authorities and utilities ALARA programmes, available ALARA tools, need for ALARA improvements, lessons learnt from incidents, and recommendations to EC coming from the panel sessions of the EAN Workshops. Each issue includes one or two feature articles, as well as experts' viewpoints and ALARA information.
The content of the Newsletter has mainly been provided by EAN Members. However, the EAN Newsletter Editorial Board has decided to also encourage recipients of the Newsletter to submit article for inclusion in future issues. Submitted articles should aim to fit the current ediotorial line and will be selected on that basis.
You are free to translate the Newsletter: As in many countries the English language is not understood by some of the potential addresses of the Newsletter, it has been suggested it should be translated into other languages (Flemish, Spanish, French...). The Network is not able to do this centrally but, as the objective of the Newsletter is to facilitate as wide as possible dissemination of the ALARA culture, every participating organisation may translate the Newsletter and publish it as a 'common' publication with the European ALARA Network. Moreover any journal can translate one or more articles in its own publication using its national language, providing the original article in the Newsletter and authors are referenced.
Authors are solely responsible for their publication in this Newsletter. It does not represent the opinion of the community. The community and the Editorial Board are not responsible for any use that might be made of the data appearing therein.
By F. Vermeersch (EAN Chairperson - SCK-CEN Mol, Belgium), P. Croüail (EAN Vice-Chairperson - CEPN, France) and P. Shaw (EAN Secretary - HPA, UK)
Warning - This editorial was written before the recent dramatic events in Japan. The editorial board, and EAN Members would like to send their deepest condolences to the people of Japan, particularly those who have lost loved ones as a result of the earthquake and tsunami. Of course, we also have thoughts for the nuclear workers and firefighters who are trying to prevent an even bigger catastrophe, and for evacuees and other inhabitants of the regions affected by the radiological consequences of the serious accidents that occurred at the Fukushima NPP.
For many years, ALARA has often been considered simply as a tool that aims to balance the cost of (nuclear) workers' protection against their radiological risks. This is a common simplification of the concept of optimisation, which has considerably evolved since the establishment of the concept of “reasonable practicability” or “reasonable achievability” - the so-called ALARP-ALARA principle - 70 years ago. This concept was first introduced into UK case law (Edwards v. National Coal Board in 1949) after a rockfall in a coal mine killed a worker. The original wording - which explains how ALARP/ALARA came to be interpreted - was: “risks must be averted unless there is a gross disproportion between the costs and benefits of doing so”. Consequently, until the end of the 80's there was a focus on cost-benefit analysis as a means of radiological risk management. However, it is now recognized that ALARA is far more than this.
The optimisation principle applies to all exposure situations, in all domains of human activity where there is a potential radiological risk for people (workers and/or public). In the nuclear industry, the application of ALARA over 20 years, at an organisational and practical level, has been accompanied by a significant reduction in collective doses - often by a factor of between 2 and 10, for performing the same job or operation. In non-nuclear industries (e.g. industrial radiography, and NORM industries), important steps have been made, although ALARA awareness can still be improved [see G. Frasch, S. Neumaier et al., L. Garbarino - M. Calimero]. In the medical sector, the ALARA culture is not universally embraced in European countries, although there are encouraging signs that the message is starting to be heard [S. Christofides et al. and the EAN 13th Workshop announcement].