Andreeva Bay in northwest Russia hosts one of the former coastal technical bases of the Northern Fleet. Currently, this base is designated as the Andreeva Bay branch of Northwest Center for Radioactive Waste Management (SevRAO) and is a site of temporary storage (STS) for spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and other radiological waste generated during the operation and decommissioning of nuclear submarines and ships. According to an integrated expert evaluation, this site is the most dangerous nuclear facility in northwest Russia. Environmental rehabilitation of the site is currently in progress and is supported by strong international collaboration. This paper describes how the optimization principle (ALARA) has been adopted during the planning of remediation work at the Andreeva Bay STS and how Russian-Norwegian collaboration greatly contributed to ensuring the development and maintenance of a high level safety culture during this process. More specifically, this paper describes how integration of a system, specifically designed for improving the radiological safety of workers during the remediation work at Andreeva Bay, was developed in Russia. It also outlines the 3D radiological simulation and virtual reality based systems developed in Norway that have greatly facilitated effective implementation of the ALARA principle, through supporting radiological characterisation, work planning and optimization, decision making, communication between teams and with the authorities and training of field operators.
In the mid-1950s, concern was increasing about the possible effects from the radioactive fallout resulting from nuclear weapon testing. Various scientists from non-nuclear countries such as Sweden and Canada made their politicians aware of the potential hazards of fallout. This concern went up to the General Assembly of the United Nations, which took the unique step of appointing a scientific committee to advise it about the levels and effects of radiation, especially from nuclear bomb testing. The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation was established in 1955 and held its first working meeting in September 1956. In less than two years it produced its first, pioneering report, which produced previously secret information about fallout exposure, and hitherto unknown information about natural background and medical exposure.
[A decrease in the level of erythrocytes with micronuclei under the influence of pyrimidine and thiazolidine derivatives in the blood of persons who came under radiation exposure as a result of the accident at the Siberian Chemical Combine]
The authors have found that pentoxylum (pyrimidine derivative) and leucogenum (thyazolidine derivative) are capable or reducing the number of cells with micronuclei in the blood of people who suffered from the radiation accident at the radiochemical works of the Siberian chemical plant. The most effective decrease in the cells with micronuclei in adults was observed two weeks after treatment, while in children the same result was achieved with leucogenum on the third day.
It will be clear from the aforegoing that occupational standards have varied over the past 30-40 years since the beginnings of the nuclear industry. Our perception of risk rates for cancer mortality and genetic effects has changed, such that the rates have been constantly revised upwards. Logically, dose limits should have been reduced in proportion, but this assumes a constant approach to the "tolerability" or "acceptability" of risk and this has not been demonstrated. Dose limits are not seen by management in the nuclear industry as the only plank in the structure of radiation protection; emphasis is also being given to the "optimization" ethic. In these circumstances a good test of the efficacy of the system of radiation control in limiting health effects is needed. As can be seen, no such study is available and, given the doses received and the numbers of workers involved, it is unlikely that any epidemiologic study, apart from studies on miners, will have sufficient statistical power to be totally unequivocal. However, some studies have shown cancer mortality associations with radiation exposure that are significant. Probably the best way to mitigate the inherent drawbacks in these studies is to pool data-sets, and this is being done. Other improvements will include estimates of cancer incidence in countries with cancer registries (e.g., U.K., Canada, and Sweden) and to perhaps go beyond epidemiologic data to consider sensitive biologic markers as indices of exposure. Overall the conclusion must be that the radiation industry cannot be complacent and for some tasks in the processes involved (e.g., uranium mining) there is strong evidence of a history of unacceptable health effects occurring.
In Norway, the largest reported quantities of radioactive discharges and radioactive waste containing naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) come from the oil and gas sector, and smaller quantities of other NORM waste are also produced by industrial or mining processes. The Gulen final repository for radioactive waste from the oil and gas industry from the Norwegian continental shelf was opened in 2008 and has a capacity of 6000 tonnes. As of 1 January 2011, a new regulation was enforced whereby radioactive waste and radioactive pollution was integrated in the Pollution Control Act from 1981. This means that radioactive waste and radioactive pollution are now regulated under the same legal framework as all other pollutants and hazardous wastes. The regulation establishes two sets of criteria defining radioactive waste: a lower value for when waste is considered to be radioactive waste, and a higher value, in most cases, for when this waste must be disposed of in a final waste repository. For example, waste containing = 1 Bq/g of Ra-226 is defined as radioactive waste, while radioactive waste containing = 10 Bq/g of Ra-226 must be disposed of in a final repository. Radioactive waste between 1 and 10B q/g can be handled and disposed of by waste companies who have a licence for handling hazardous waste according to the Pollution Control Act. Alternatively, they will need a separate licence for handling radioactive waste from the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority. The goal of the new regulation is that all radioactive waste should be handled and stored in a safe manner, and discharges should be controlled through a licensing regime in order to avoid/not pose unnecessary risk to humans or the environment. This paper will elaborate on the new regulation of radioactive waste and the principles of NORM management in Norway in view of the International Commission on Radiological Protection's 2007 Recommendations.