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News / January 10, 2008

Concern expressed over radioactive waste management

by Guy Hiscott

The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) has reiterated its concern over successive governments’ failure to establish a centralised storage facility to manage disused radioactive sources from dental clinics, hospitals and other medical facilities.

In the RPII Annual Report and Accounts 2006, which was released on 17 December 2007, the RPII also highlighted that a number of employers were prosecuted for failing to comply with a direction to monitor for radon in their workplaces.

Speaking at the launch of the 2006 annual report, Dr Ann McGarry, chief executive of the RPII, said: ‘We have been advising the Government for many years about the need to establish a centralised storage facility for disused radioactive sources. The Board of the RPII now considers that a national policy on radioactive waste management is needed to deal comprehensively with the issue, up to and including final disposal. While radiation sources have many beneficial uses in medicine and industry today, it is nonetheless of paramount importance that the safety and security of these sources continues to be ensured after their use comes to an end.

‘For the average person, radon continues to be the single largest source of radiation exposure. It is extremely important that both homeowners and employers monitor for this invisible, odourless and tasteless radioactive gas. During 2006, RPII prosecuted a number of businesses for failing to test for radon after receiving a direction from the RPII. We will continue to use our powers of prosecution if and when we consider it appropriate.’

The RPII is the national organisation with regulatory, monitoring and advisory responsibilities in matters relating to ionising radiation. In particular, the RPII has responsibilities in relation to hazards to health associated with ionising radiation in the workplace and with radioactive contamination in the environment.