The safety of the peaceful use of nuclear energy has been a much discussed topic for decades. While Germany has decided to exit from nuclear energy by 2021, new nuclear power plants are planned in other countries. But it is clear that the consequences of an accident can be devastating, as the meltdowns of Chernobyl and Fukushima have shown on 26.04.1986 and 11.03.2011, respectively. Since radioactive clouds know no national borders, there is a potential threat for Austria, too. Therefore a conscientious emergency planning is essential to keep the impact of radiological emergency situations on the population as low as possible.
Austrian Radiation Early Warning and Monitoring Network
An automatic nationwide measurement network for gamma radiation has been in operation for rapid detection and assessment of large-scale radioactive contaminations in Austria for more than 30 years. It was Europe's first automatic radiation measurement system and, with over 300 measurement stations, represents one of the world's densest monitoring networks. The measurement results are automatically transmitted to the head offices of federal and state governments every 10 minutes. The data from 111 monitoring stations is also available on the Radiation Protection website of the BMLFUW.
In addition, 10 air monitors are installed that automatically and continuously measure the alpha, beta and gamma rays of aerosols in the air. All readings from the Austrian Radiation Early Warning System are available online in both federal emergency control centres for radiation, which run in parallel in order to achieve a high degree of fail-safety.
The website of the BMLFUW provides additional information on the radiation early warning system.
For reliable detection of new emissions the radiation early warning system is complemented by the laboratory-based monitoring network of the AGES. At the facilities in Vienna, Linz, Graz and Innsbruck various monitoring tasks are carried out in specially equipped radiation protection laboratories. The main task is to determine even small increases of radioactivity in food (food control) and various environmental media such as air, precipitation, soil and surface water as well as in wastewater treatment plant discharges nationwide at any time.