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Environmental radioactivity monitoring allows the real-time monitoring of the existing radioactivity in the environment, the determination of radioactive contamination levels and the estimation of public exposure due to radioactive contamination of the environment.

National radioactivity measuring network

The monitoring programme of the national radioactivity measuring network is set out in detail in Chapter 5 of the Slovenian Radiation Protection Administration report on the radiation exposure of population in Slovenia. Every year the Slovenian Radiation Protection Administration provides a report on the radiation exposure of the population in Slovenia. The report presents the collected results of measurements of radioactivity in biosphere samples, as well in particular organisms in the food chain, including an analysis and report. The results of various types of monitoring conducted in Slovenia under the Ministry of Health and the Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning are taken into account in order to estimate the doses received by different population groups due to radioactive pollution. The national network programme determines the types of samples and measurements, sampling sites, the frequency of measurements and the annual number of samples. Radioactivity is measured in the air, soil, precipitation, surface waters (rivers and the sea), drinking water, animal feed and wooden pellets.

The following radionuclides are monitored: Cs-137, Sr-90 and H-3 (only in waters). Concurrently, natural radionuclides are determined in the samples: i.e. U-238, Ra-226, Pb-210, Th-228 and Ra-228, as well as K-40 and Be-7. The results are evaluated in the annual reports of the Nuclear Safety Administration, which also include a summary of monitoring programme.

The monitoring is designed so that it covers, in particular, the central region of the country and the areas that have been most contaminated in the past. An emphasis is also placed on the regions important for food production. Sampling sites are generally constant, except for drinking water, food and animal feed, which are changed annually in order to periodically cover all regions of Slovenia. The map of sampling points for a given year is included in the Nuclear Safety Administration report on the radiation exposure of the population in Slovenia. A separate map of measurements of external radiation doses is also provided.

Operational monitoring in nuclear and radiation facilities

Each of the facilities monitored (Krško Nuclear Power Plant – NEK, TRIGA research reactor, Central Radioactive Waste Storage – CSRAO, Žirovski vrh Uranium Mine – RUŽV) has its own specific monitoring programme. While all programmes have general elements in common, there are considerable differences in the radionuclides measured, the number of measurements per sample and measurement frequency. The scope of operational monitoring also depends on the type of radionuclides, their emitted radioactivity and the relevance of transmission routes for radionuclide dispersal in the environment.

A detailed review of the operational monitoring programme for a particular facility is provided in the annual report of the specific facility: NEK, RUŽV, TRIGA reactor and CSRAO. The monitoring programmes also include the set of radionuclides measured with regard to the facility concerned.

The most extensive radioactivity monitoring in Slovenia is provided by NEK, followed by the monitoring of the RUŽV former uranium mine. The scopes of radioactive monitoring programmes for the TRIGA reactor in Brinje and the transitional radioactive waste storage in Brinje (CSRAO) are considerably smaller. A short review of radioactivity monitoring programmes for each facility is provided in the annual reports of the Nuclear Safety Administration. Local monitoring areas are indicated on maps provided in the annual reports of nuclear and radiation facilities: NEK, RUŽV, TRIGA reactor and CSRAO.

Authorised performers for radioactivity monitoring

The measurements of radioactive effluents are carried out by the operators of facilities, either by monitors that continuously measure effluents or by measurements of periodic samples in a laboratory. By authority of the Nuclear Safety Administration, external authorised performers for radioactivity monitoring may participate in these measurements.

The measurements of environmental radioactivity are carried out solely by external authorised performers for radioactivity monitoring. In order for performer for radioactivity monitoring to be granted an authorisation by the Nuclear Safety Administration, it must have laboratories that use accredited methods, and adequate credentials and personnel capacities.

The authorised performers for radioactivity monitoring carry out sampling, conduct analyses and evaluate radioactivity measurements, all with regard to contamination levels and trends, as well as to exposure of the population (dose estimate).