The Federal Office for Radiation Protection and Co
Now the Federal Government, with its own institutions, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, in cooperation with the Federal Criminal Police Office, has set up a special unit to deal with all types of crime in connection with radioactive materials. Here you have a concept for a manageable team and the determination to deal with the problem. In order to be able to fall back on more staff in an emergency, parts of the Federal Police are recruited and trained for such cases. A lot can be practiced, but whether the concept is successful in reality has not yet been tested under real conditions. It is highly plausible that here too, as with the rescue forces, experience in handling open radioactive materials will be lacking. The focus of these units is on the “forensic-police” side and less on the protection side.
Our Bundeswehr also has an ABC component, which is actually only used for defense purposes. Here, also, the theoretically trained group of staff is involved for hazardous situations; handling of open radioactive materials was only carried out on a very small laboratory scale, if at all. The equipment is much too general for an emergency, the decontamination successes are only described theoretically, since such systems have never been actually used except in our company.
The Weather Service and Co
In Germany, a comprehensive monitoring network is operated by the German Weather Service and the Federal Office for Radiation Protection. Several states and the federal government monitor water and food. Together with Switzerland, we have an effective monitoring network that can detect even the smallest traces of radioactivity. An ever shrinking team with years of know-how in environmental monitoring is working here.
These monitoring networks were set up after the Chernobyl accident. At that time, the thought was correct to be able to warn the population about airborne radioactive substances from abroad in time. This still makes sense, but the dangers have changed.
Air activity is largely monitored at the external borders of the Federal Republic of Germany and around nuclear facilities. Now we have to ask ourselves the fundamental question: For whom do we actually operate radiation protection for?
First and foremost, radiation protection is there to protect people from radiation. Secondly, the environment must be protected from artificial radioactive substances.
The question is, where is the highest population density? In metropolitan areas and cities, at airports and railway stations. In recent years, hardly any monitoring facilities have been created there. (Except for particulate matter).The endangerment has changed and especially these metropolitan areas can quickly become targets of attacks without this being noticed promptly.
It is certainly correct and important to detect the spread of radioactive substances at an early stage. Our responsible departments tend to focus only on the metrological detection because it is easier. Primarily, it is also important to be able to assess the radiation exposure of the population and, if necessary, to close down areas. The question arises, what comes next?
There are no sustainable concepts for the decontamination of ordinary infrastructure or trained staff who could carry out this decontamination properly.