Background articles

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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