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IAEA Launches Ground-Breaking Programme on Methods for Radiological & Environmental Impact Assessment


The IAEA is launching a new programme to help countries further build their capacities in carrying out radiological environmental impact assessments. The programme – Methods for Radiological and Environmental Impact assessment (MEREIA) – will be launched in October 2021 and will run from 2021 to 2025. It aims to help countries apply assessment approaches, conceptual models, mathematical models and data within the broader context of environmental impact assessment.

“We are delighted to be launching this MERIEA programme to improve the quality and accessibility of the guidance we provide to countries in assessing the impact of radionuclides released to the environment,” said Anna Clark, Section Head of the Waste and Environmental Safety Section. “Increasing capability in this area will enable countries to make informed decisions about if and how the impact of radionuclide releases should be controlled.”

Environmental assessment models are used by operating organisations and regulators to simulate the transfer of radionuclides released to the environment from facilities such as nuclear power plants and hospitals with nuclear medicine departments. These models are essential tools for understanding potential impacts, including those from authorized discharges to the environment. Assessments also consider impacts on both people and wildlife as well as other environmental, social and economic factors, including natural resources and food production.

The IAEA began supporting environmental assessment activities in the 1980s and has run a series of programmes, the most recent being MODARIA (Modelling and Data for Radiological Impact), which ran from 2012 to 2019.  MODARIA aimed at enhancing the capabilities of countries to simulate radionuclide transfer in the environment and assess exposures to the public and wildlife. This programme had the direct participation of some 140 specialists from more than 40 countries.

MERIEA will further the development of the environmental assessment models and methodologies initiated by the MODARIA programme and aims to build international consensus on good practice in this area, under the umbrella of the IAEA Safety Standards. MEREIA will also enhance the resources in countries, not only through its modelling capacity, but also through a mentoring approach to enhance knowledge management. The MEREIA programme is intended for professionals from regulatory bodies, operating organizations, technical support organisations, scientists, researchers, decision-makers and others with responsibilities in carrying out radiological environmental impact assessments.

“MEREIA’s aim is to provide an international forum to bring experienced and less experienced individuals together from countries in different regions,” said Joanne Brown, Head of the IAEA’s Assessment and Management of Environmental Releases Unit. “The new MEREIA programme will provide a unique interactive setting to strengthen the development of young professionals through a series of workshops and opportunities for writing technical papers and presenting scientific results at the MEREIA meetings.”

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