Some issues concerning the effect of ionizing radiation on the human body and methodological approaches to the development of radiation safety standards are considered. It is shown that the use of the linear no-threshold hypothesis (LNT hypothesis) in up-to-date radiation safety standards is inconsistent with experimental and epidemiological dose-response data, introduces essential excessive conservatism in the safety assessment process and causes additional problems concerning nuclear power engineering development.
Due to the absence of convincing proofs for the existence of the dose threshold* nowadays, it is assumed that any ionizing radiation can lead to a certain risk of developing harmful effects and, therefore, the linear non-threshold dependence between the dose and the probability of the harmful effect is recommended. However, everyone understands that the use of the LNT hypothesis significantly overestimates the real danger. At the same time, the LNT hypothesis aggravates the existing high public fear of nuclear power, and the nuclear power industry pays extraordinary expenses to comply with radiation protection standards based on the LNT hypothesis. In order to comply with rules and regulations based on the LNT hypothesis, the nuclear energy industry invests financial resources in the creation of additional safety barriers for nuclear facilities, as well as new security and control systems. One of the reasons for increasing the cost for construction of a nuclear power plant is the increased design cost caused by enhanced safety requirements that are based on the LNT hypothesis.
The traditional engineering approach to ensure the safety of nuclear facilities is based on the increase in the number of protective systems and devices that reduce the probability of severe accidents and reduce the radiation hazard of their consequences. Implementation of this approach in practice leads to a complication and a rise in the price of a nuclear facility. Obviously, it is possible to substantially enhance the safety level of nuclear facilities by creating new and new safety barriers around them, but sooner or later the nuclear energy production will become uncompetitive compared to the generation of other kinds of energy.
It is concluded that up-to-date knowledge gives all the necessary grounds for eliminating the use of the linear no-threshold hypothesis and for revising the existing radiation safety standards of Ukraine for some isolated technological operations related to radiation hazardous activities. Such technological operations include activities related to the mitigation of radiation accident consequences, retrieval of nuclear materials and other activities related to the Shelter’s transformation into an environmentally safe system.
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