European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results
Content archived on 2024-04-16



The basic aim of the project is to provide a coherent methodological framework for incorporating environmental and health impacts of energy systems into decision making processes related to risk control. It will involve an analysis that will put radiological risk and protection efforts related to nuclear energy into perspective with other energy systems, and that will permit a comprehensive assessment approach. It will encompass guidelines for the choice of detriment indicators and tools for their computation.
An assessment has been made of public risks during normal operation of the French uranium fuel cycle. The evaluation of nuisances and risk has been done for normal operations.
TheFrench uranium mining industry is divided between 'Cogema' and 'Total Compagnie Miniere' (Vendee, Massif Central, Herault). The uranium concentration is performed close to the mines. Uranium concentration is generally between 0.5 and 1.3%. The main exposure for public results mainly from radon emission which is estimated at about 0.5 t Bq/Twh(e). Transformation of uranium concentrates is handled by Comurhex in Malvesi (Aude). The 'yellow cake' is transformed into uranium fluoride (UF4). The amount of uranium discharged is about 0.8 kg/Twh(e). Transformation of UF4 into UF6 is carried out by Comurhex in Pierrelatte (Drome). The discharge at the chimney after filtering is about 90 kBq/Twh(e) for uranium (alpha activity).
The uranium enrichment plant EURODIF is situated in Tricastin close to Pierrelatte. The uranium discharge is about 8 g/TWh(e) while fluoride and chloride ions are respectively estimated at 0.8 and 2 g/TWh(e). FBFC carries out fuel fabrication in 2 plants: Romans (Isere) and Pierrelatte (Drome). A part of the enriched uranium dioxide powder is sent to Dessel (Belgium). The total activity discharged is of the order of 1.5 kBq/TWh(e) (uranium plus daughter products).

4 nuclear plants are taken into account to find the following emissions: 1.2 to 2.8 TBq/TWh(e) for noble gases;
0.008 to 0.04 GBq/TWh(e) for iodines;
0.74 TBq/TWh(e) for tritium;
22.8 GBq/TWh(e) for carbon-14.

Information on the reprocessing of spent fuel is mainly obtained from La Hague plant (Manche):
3.4 MBq/TWh(e) beta total;
1 GBq/TWh(e) tritium;
2.3 PBq/TWh(e) krypton-85;
0.1 MBq/TWh(e) caesium-137;
34.9 MBq/TWh(e) iodine-131;
0.9 GBq/TWh(e) iodine-129;
5.5 kBq/TWh(e) plutonium-239.

Exposure of the public is calculated, as a mean annual value, from concentrations of the various pollutants in the environment, with the help of various transfer models. The exposure of the most exposed group of population is an hypothetical situation where all kinds of pollutants are at their maximum concentrations value in the same sector of maximum transfer. The maximal value exposures calculated for each step of the fuel cycle (in Sv/y/(TWh/y) are:
mining and milling, 8.32 E-6;
transformation, 7.03 E-7;
conversion, 4.10 E-10;
enrichment, 6.64 E-9;
fuel fabrication, 3.27 E-10;
energy production, 1.22 E-7;
reprocessing, 3.24 E-7;
uranium cycle, 9.48 E-6.

The collective exposure to which general public are subjected have been assessed for about 10 miles and 50 miles from emission point.

A personal computer (PC) based assessment system for the quantification of radiation detriment (ASQRAD) has been developed. The system is being used to help define the radiological risks of nuclear electricity production. The quantification of radiation detriment for the purposes of dose limitation is important in radiological protection.

The application of the quality adjusted life year (QALY) measure for radiological protection has been evaluated. An extensive review of QALY literature has suggested that the QALY concept is generally useful in radiation protection. The main problem with QALY methods was in discounting and it is suggested that a 0% discount rate should be employed so that all generations are valued equally. Other difficulties to be addressed are balancing probabilities of detriment against years of life lost (YOLL), the years of life impaired (YOLI) and the level (%) of impairment.

A methodological framework has been developed for comparison of the impact of coal and nuclear fuel cycles on the public and workers under normal and accidental operations. For each step of a fuel cycle a matrix of time and space is constructed and the assessment of risks applicable for each all of the matrix is conducted. The transfer of the releases through the environment and to the public is accomplished by impact pathway analysis specific to the reference environment and the composition and type of release. Environmental indicators are the damage from air and water pollution and the increase in contamination levels. Health impacts for the public and workers are assessed by mortality, morbidity, genetic effects, years of life lost, working days lost and occupational injuries. Risk assessment has also been conducted for the construction and decommissioning of a nuclear power plant, transportation between different steps in the cycle, waste disposal and major reactor accidents.

Analysis of the risk of health effects from air pollutants from a coal fired power plant has been performed. Health effects within the general public arise from sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and particulates, which affect the respiratory system. The urban airshed model (UAM), a 3-dimensional Eulerian numerical grid model, was used for the calculation of air transport of pollutants and chemical conversion of secondary pollutants like ozone. Threshold values of pollutant concentrations used as air quality guidelines internationally were employed to identify regions where possible health effects might appear.

A study of the risks for the public and workers of the nuclear fuel cycle has been carried out in southeastern France. Exposure of the general public was calculated from the concentrations of the various pollutants in the environment. Other parameters taken into account were the activity of a pollutant inhaled or ingested and relative biological activities of substances. For the evaluation of radiological risk and imaginary population was considered which would be subjected to the sum of all the maximum levels of exposure around the plant. This indicated the upper limit for the harm that may be done. The exposures to which the general public were subjected was assessed at 2 distances from the emission points: 17 km (100000 people) and 85 km (1 million people). The excess mortality and percentage of nonfatal cancers were calculated. The effects on the health of workers were estimated by theoretical calculations based on exposures experienced, and by examining declarations of occupational diseases. Accidents at work were also considered as a form of health hazard.
The work will progress simultaneously in two parts:

Development of new detriment indicators.
Investigation of the potential use in radiation protection of the concepts of years of lost life, quality adjusted life years (QALYs) and other expressions of health detriment from radiation exposure. Such expressions will incorporate measures of both fatal and nonfatal cancers as well as genetic effects. The work will, in addition, consider various schemes for costing man-Sieverts in the light of these ideas.

Comparative study of radiological and nonradiological risk.
Testing of the proposed methodological framework will be based on evaluations carried out on a regional level in Germany (BadenAWurtenberg Region) and in the South East of France. This second part will be structured according to the following steps:

Overview of past experience with comparative studies on energy systems.
This phase should lead to identifying any remaining problems in the assessment and management of different kinds of risks related to the various installations or technical systems which are part of the fuel cycle. Both aspects of electricity production and end use of energy (substitution of electricity with other sources of energy) will be addressed.

Assessment of impacts.
This step will be devoted to the updating of health and environmental impacts of the various installations within the fuel cycle and at the level of end use within the house, taking into account basic dimensions such as: occupational and public risks, normal operation and accidental situations, and observed and estimated impacts. This work will be based on the most recent information available in the various institutions and also by integrating, when still valid, results of the comparative studies performed in the past (BadenAWurtenberg, South East of France.).

Economical valuation of detriment.
Health and environmental impact will be evaluated in physical terms using the exposureArisk relationship. An economic valuation of these impacts and other social costs will be performed, bearing in mind local situations and an objective of pricing externalities. This phase should provide new elements (with regard to the first generation of comparative studies) on the economic dimension of external effects of energy systems.

Risk management on a regional level.
This final step will aim at defining regional scenarios for electricity supply and end use, and at evaluating their differential impacts in terms of health and environmental risks, taking into account the cost and effectiveness of possible protection measures at the various steps in the fuel cycle or at the end use point.


Data not available

Call for proposal

Data not available


EU contribution
No data
Route Du Panorama 18

See on map

Total cost
No data

Participants (4)