Although many insights have been gained through radiation biology research, many ambiguities still remain. Nevertheless, ENSI, in cooperation with other international organisations, is working towards closing these knowledge gaps.
Ionising radiation can cause sicknesses. In order to protect the population and personnel working in nuclear installations from these harmful effects, it must be possible to measure radiation doses at any time and as accurately as possible.
There is no question in radiation biology that the severity of sickness increases at high doses. Nevertheless, it is important when considering everyday radiation protection to be able to estimate the risk of a mutation of the genetic material, and thus the risk of cancer, even in the low dose range.
With high doses, the severity of the radiation effect increases beyond that of a threshold dose. While the chances of survival up to a certain radiation exposure remain unaffected, very high doses, such as those measured on the Chernobyl site after the reactor accident, will lead to death within a very short time period.
The discovery of X-rays triggered an explosion of interest. The euphoria was, however, tempered as more and more information became known about the side effects. Radiation biology examines how radiation acts on cells and tissues.
The events in Japan are a reminder that we must never let down our guard. It is essential to ensure the safety of Swiss nuclear power plants right up until their final days of operation. Moreover, the accident in Japan shone a light on another important aspect: emergency preparedness.
Against the background of the lessons learnt from the major nuclear accident in Fukushima, the ENSI Board will continue to carry out its duties both vigilantly and independently, while ensuring the clear separation of ENSI’s regulatory safety function on the one hand from economic and political interests on the other.
At the time of the fateful accident in Fukushima, Doris Leuthard was head of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC). To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the nuclear disaster, the former Federal Councillor explains why it was essential to provide political support for nuclear safety after the accident.
After the accident at Fukushima, there was an increasing demand for international safety standards and their international monitoring. Switzerland, and in particular ENSI, was committed to mandatory backfitting on a global basis. Even if such safety principles are still not legally binding, the reactor accident acted as a booster for a new safety awareness amongst the international community.