The NEA’s overarching goal in the area of radiological protection is to assist member countries in the regulation, implementation and further development of the system of radiological protection and the underlying science. To this end, interaction and co-ordination with international organisations, notably the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), is essential to ensure complementarity, avoid duplication and contribute to a harmonised global radiological protection framework.
Co-operation between the NEA and the ICRP has always been a pillar to support the Agency’s work on radiological protection, directly in a bilateral form or indirectly through feedback received from member countries on implementing the radiological protection system, regulations and standards. Continuing this co-operation, the NEA participated in the Meeting of Senior Representatives of Organisations in Formal Relations with the ICRP on 2 June 2021. With more than 60 participants from over 30 organisations, the meeting was considered a key moment for stakeholders in the radiological protection field to initiate exchanges on the next review and revision of the system of radiological protection.
The strategic review and revision of the ICRP set of fundamental recommendations takes place approximately every 15-to-20 years and provides a unique opportunity for NEA member countries to reflect in depth on the current system of radiological protection based on scientific progress and the evolution of societal concerns and public awareness.
Based on feedback from the ongoing work of the NEA Committee on Radiological Protection and Public Health (CRPPH), as well as on feedback received in a member survey in 2020, the preliminary expectations of NEA member countries are mainly related to the need to modernise radiological protection policy and practice. Potential preliminary changes suggested to improve the current system of radiological protection include i) strengthening the scientific foundation of the system and its three fundamental principles, ii) incorporating ethical concepts and their related core values, and iii) taking a more holistic approach with regards to the protection objectives of the system.
In this context, the NEA proposed a four-part process to contribute to the ICRP revision of the system of radiological protection:
- Re-establish the NEA Expert Group on International Recommendations (EGIR), which will collect initial thoughts on the changes needed in the system and suggestions going forward, including research priorities;
- Collect feedback from the CRPPH expert groups on their views on the system of radiological protection in their specific area of work, such as low-dose research co-ordination, radiation dose limits to the lens of the eye, preparedness for post-accident recovery and mental health impacts of radiological emergencies.
- Write a report compiling the views expressed by experts on the changes requested, the rationale for their justification and the suggested way forward;
- If necessary, propose specific expert groups or events to take forward some of the findings together with the ICRP and other relevant organisations.