Latvia criticised over monitoring

25 May 2007

The European Commission’s nuclear energy directorate has found a series of radiation protection procedure and capacity failings at Latvia’s Salaspils research nuclear reactor.

During a general investigation of Latvia’s capacity to monitor and deal with radiation problems, the commission has called for reforms at the reactor, although it did accept basic radioactivity monitoring and sampling facilities were in place.

In particular, a commission inspection team found that Latvia’s radiation safety centre, in the capital Riga, should “consider automatic sewage sampling or installing a continuous liquid discharge monitoring system” at the reactor site. It also noted “surface water and precipitation are sampled only a few times per year,” calling for more frequent checks.

Furthermore, Brussels concluded some of the reactor’s laboratory operational equipment was outdated and some newer equipment did not work. It also noted there was no “systematic backup” of site perimeter radiation monitor data.

As regards Latvia’s radiation safety centre itself, the commission suggested more “trained staff for the handling and maintenance of the online monitoring system central database during emergency situations.”

Furthermore, it noted that “due to insufficient analytical capacity there is currently no programme for monitoring radioactivity in drinking water in Latvia,” although it backed “current efforts” to provide such sampling and analysis.

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