Editor by night25 April 2013
Regulator by day, Chris Englefield, has launched a free quarterly e-journal that aims to help the professional development of his peers around the world. He spoke to Caroline Peachey in February.
Over his varied 30-year career, Chris Englefield, radioactive substances regulation technical services manager (non-nuclear), UK Environment Agency, has seen many different aspects of radiation protection, from health physics in the military, as a nuclear industry regulator at Sellafield, emergency planner, and in securing radioactive sources. He recently served as president of the UK Society for Radiological Protection. His work with professional associations widened his perspective beyond the borders of the UK.
"I've been doing international work for 12 or 13 years. Through the IAEA and the World Institute of Nuclear Security (WINS) I have had the opportunity to travel fairly widely. I have even been on a few inspections as an observer."
According to Englefield, of the 200-odd countries in the world, around 40 still do not have any form of regulatory body. Further, of the approximately 160 that do have radiation regulators, some are in their infancy.
"In some cultures I have seen what I think is a lack of confidence. I remember when I started as a regulator, I lacked confidence. I believe that knowing that you are competent increases your confidence. The regulator in any situation has to be confident enough to know that they can use the science and the law to do their job properly. We are trying to do something to help that."
Since the first issue was published in January, the publication has been downloaded by around 300 people from 32 different countries (although it is free, users need to register to download it).
Englefield stressed that Radiation Regulator is not a radiation protection journal (many of those more technical academic publications already exist), but rather something that people might pick up during their lunch break. The publication is targeted at regulators.
"The IAEA tends to talk to governments and regulatory bodies. I'm not sure there is anyone else that is trying to talk to regulators at the operational level," Englefield said. "The idea is to provide little gems or nuclei of ideas across all the things that radiation regulators do."
He also noted that the people that meet in Vienna, including himself, are often senior regulators. They may not have been on an inspection for many years, leaving them somewhat out of touch. Providing a forum for regulators to exchange experiences and knowledge could be helpful.
"I believe providing that sort of thing to individuals makes them a little more professional; that is, competent and confident," Englefield explained.
The first issue
It took Englefield the best part of a year to launch Radiation Regulator; he recruited his editorial board and spent many months trying to cajole colleagues and friends into writing papers for the first issue.
The editorial board includes some high-profile figures within the radiation protection industry, in particular Jack Valentin, retired Secretary of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and Renate Czarwinski, current president of the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA), which lends credibility.
The publication also has a watchdog to ensure that Englefield doesn't break the rules as a serving regulator. It only promotes best practice from international consensus-based bodies like the IAEA and WINS; there is no single national approach that fits every country's needs, Englefield said.
When asked what it was like to produce the first issue, Englefield responded: "I thought it would be hard, but I had no idea how hard." He was up all night on New Year's Eve, determined to meet the 1 January publication deadline that he had set himself.
He has also invested financially "more than I would care to tell my wife" in the journal, which has included getting the logo professionally designed. Englefield explained that he used an honorarium from speaking at the US Health Physics Society last summer towards the set-up costs.
The first 41-page edition of Radiation Regulator was published in January 2013 and includes news, seven peer-reviewed papers, as well as an interview, a technical top-up page and two book reviews. There is also a paper from a medical physicist in Nepal who is lobbying his government to set up a regulatory body. The scope of the journal is also much wider than radiation protection; for example, the first issue includes background information on the function of blood irradiators (which have to be inspected).
Englefield envisages that Radiation Regulator would continue to cover practical issues, which need not be technical. Another example he gave was workload modelling, which could help managers organize their own resources, to justify the need for additional staff or resources to their governments, or more likely why they can't cut funding. While experiences may be directly transferable from one country to another, Englefield said he hopes that people will find something that can broaden their outlook and knowledge.
The next issue of Radiation Regulator is due to be published on 6 May 2013 on www.radiationregulator.net.