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Implementation of the measuring strategy for drinking water following a nuclear incident. Results of the DRIMKO project

Implementatie meetstrategie drinkwater bij kernongevallen. Resultaten DRIMKO-project

Synopsis

Water companies in the Netherlands have just enough capacity to carry out radiological analyses of the drinking water following a nuclear disaster. Radioactive contamination of surface water can have a negative effect on the quality of the drinking water. In order to assess the radiation exposure of the population, water companies will have to analyse large numbers of drinking water samples within a short period of time. During a nuclear incident, drinking water samples will be analysed for radioactivity more often than is usual. Sampling will occur at various stations along the water purification process. With the aim of obtaining a good overview of the sampling and measuring strategies for untreated and clean drinking water, the RIVM has compiled data on various aspects of the operational management of these water companies. This information relates to the number of samples estimated to require testing, the actual processing capacity of the water company and the capacity that will be required during and following a nuclear incident. Water companies have only a limited number of options when confronted with a nuclear accident that requires urgent modifications to the drinking water purification process. The most important short-term options are to flush contaminated untreated water to the sea and to minimize the use of outdoor air for oxidation purposes. Recent mergers among the producers of drinking water in the Netherlands have resulted in a centralization of laboratory capacity. This rather limited capacity to carry out radioactivity measurements is a factor that should not be overlooked in the near future.
 

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