Environment, Health and Safety
The institute for Environment, Health and Safety, EHS, wants to help assure the safety of man and the protection of the environment for the useful use of radioactivity and for applications of ionising radiation, and this to an extent that can be accepted by the community. Thereto, the community determines the prior conditions by means of laws and orders, and EHS contributes to the scientific basis of it.
The statutory mission of SCK•CEN gives the priority to research on aspects concerning safety, nuclear waste management, the protection of man and environment, management of fissile and other strategic materials and societal implications within the framework of the search for sustainable development. These elements also determine the mission of the EHS institute.
EHS mainly focuses on the possible consequences of ionising radiation on man and his environment and on the final stage of the fuel cycle. The main accents here are risk management (policy support, emergency planning, safeguards, radiation effects, medical applications, …) and the demonstration of the controllability of the waste problem (exploratory research, safety studies, supporting the social discussion about radioactive waste, …).
Within EHS there are five major research domains:
- Radiation protection
- Waste and disposal
- Site clean up and environmental restoration
- Societal aspects of nuclear research
These activities are supported by several accredited laboratories performing radiation specific analysis, measurement techniques and health physics measurements.
Radiation protection research at SCK•CEN deals with research and exposure assessment for routine and accidental releases, both from planned and existing exposure situations. We study the way that radioactive materials spread in the environment, as well as the impact of ionising radiation on man and environment. We are also involved in emergency planning and preparedness and give support to risk management and decision taking. Medical imaging in radiology and nuclear medicine accounts for about half of the average annual effective dose for the Belgian population. We are currently involved in studies and projects on the estimation and optimisation of doses to patients and medical personnel. The effects of low dose ionising radiation on the development of organisms are investigated, with a focus on female germ cells, the pre- and early postimplantation stages, and the embryonic developing brain.
The research related to management of low-, medium- and high-level waste deals with the evaluation and demonstration of the long-term safety of radioactive waste disposal facilities. Solutions for safe and durable deep or surface disposal of radioactive waste are developed and evaluated with respect to safety, technical feasibility and acceptance.
Site and environmental restoration concentrates on the decontamination and decommissioning of the SCK•CEN installations, like the BR3 reactor, and this in a safe and economic way. Our expertise is also used to decommission nuclear installations of third parties.
The societal aspects of nuclear technology are investigated with emphasis on public participation in the decision process. Research is performed in the context of decision support to add to the transparency of decisions. Three major areas are investigated: nuclear waste management, nuclear risks management and energy management.
SCK•CEN has the statutory assignment to perform research related to the management of fissile and other strategic materials. SCK•CEN assists the Belgian authorities in this matter and provides for the Belgian "Support programme" for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Leaflet EHS (562 kB)
More detailed information about the institute EHS and its expert groups and research can be found in the section 'Our Research - Environment, Health and Safety'.