Radiation in general

All people are exposed to natural radiation 24-7.

We live in a radioactive world where everyone is constantly exposed to radiation from naturally occurring radioactive substances and from space. For the past 100 years, researchers have studied radioactivity and radiation. This has led to many technological advances.

For example, radiation is used for medical examinations and treatment of humans and animals. The industry measures thickness and compression by radiation and examines welds in pipes to see if they are intact. Researchers are using radiation to examine materials and their composition. However, the discovery of radioactivity and radiation has also led to the development of nuclear weapons and can, like all discoveries, both be used and abused.

With the increasing use of radioactive substances and radiation in, for example, hospitals and industry, it is important for users to know how to protect themselves from the radiation and what to do if an accident should occur. Health physics is the subject area that, among other things, deals with the measurement of radiation, radiation doses, radioactivity and radiation protection. In Danish Decommissioning, we have a separate unit dedicated to health physics.


All Danes are constantly irradiated and on average receive an annual dose of 4 millisievert.

Radon radiation0%
Other natural irradiation0%
Medical exposure0%

Radiation safety

We protect employees, neighbours and environment.

I n Danish Decommissioning we have a responsibility to protect people and the environment from unnecessary exposure to radiation. In all contexts, we must plan our work so that we keep radiation doses as low as possible.

Radiation Protection is a separate Danish Decommissioning Unit whose primary task is to ensure that our employees, neighbors and the surrounding environment are protected from exposure to extra radiation.

The unit oversees radiation or radioactive contamination in facilities and in working environments. The areas are monitored partly with installed measuring instruments and partly by means of air samples and swipe samples, which are analysed for radioactive content. For example, all emissions from chimneys and drains are monitored for the content of radioactive substances.

In addition to radiation protection in Danish Decommissioning, there is the nationwide nuclear emergency preparedness, which is mainly aimed at accidents in neighboring countries with nuclear power. As part of the preparedness, The Danish Emergency Management Agency has set up measuring stations across the country, including at Risø, which can measure the fallout of radioactive substances.

As radiation safety is a highly specialized subject area, knowledge sharing with foreign colleagues is ongoing. This is typically done through international conferences and workshops. In some cases, our employees undergo further training abroad.

Nuclear safety

The requirements for DD's activities are comprehensive.

The international community will ensure compliance with standards for the safety, handling, transport and storage of nuclear and radioactive material. Denmark has acceded to the international agreements between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the EU organisation Euratom and the Member States.

The Danish authorities, which oversee Danish Decommissioning in the nuclear field, are the Danish Health Authority, Radiation Protection (SIS) and the Danish Emergency Management Agency. The authorities' requirements for Danish Decommissioning are described in “Betingelser for Drift og Afvikling (BfDA)", meaning "Operational Limits and Conditions".

The BfDA is a set of requirements which must be complied with and which form the basis of the right to operate/decommission the nuclear facilities. Among other things, demands are put on emergency preparedness in relation to the facilities, on quality management and on Danish Decommissioning's organisation and management. There are also requirements for staff training and radiation protection, set limits for the emission of radioactive substances as well as criteria for the release of materials, buildings and areas.

Every year, DD prepares an Operation and Decommissioning Report which is sent to SIS and The Danish Emergency Management Agency. Bi-annual reports are also prepared for DD on radioactivity measurements in the surrounding environment. The latest report can be found on the "Publications" page (in the category Radiation - In General) under the "About us" menu item.

Furthermore, Danish Decommissioning is subject to the so-called Safeguards control, which is required by the Non-Proliferation Agreement to ensure that nuclear material is used only for peaceful purposes. With Danish Decommissioning the control means that:

Safeguards reports must be submitted to Euratom every month

Safeguards inspectors from the IAEA and Euratom inspect Danish Decommissioning at least once a year

Unplanned inspections may occur (though with at least 24 hours’ notice)

Safeguard office

Danish Decommissioning carries out the national safeguard office function

The function of Danish Decommissioning is to keep an account of the nuclear material, Uranium (U), Thorium (Th) and Plutonium (Pu), throughout Denmark.

At Danish Decommissioning we also handle the other documentation related to the safeguard system, which is under the authority of the European Atomic Energy Agency (Euratom) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In addition, the Danish Decommissioning Safeguards Officer participates in any safeguards inspections at Danish companies with nuclear material.

If you have any questions regarding safeguard, please contact the Danish Decommissioning Safeguard Office at safeguard@dekom.dk

Risk of emission?

Even in the most pessimistic accident scenarios, the risk is negligible.

There is no risk of living or working near Danish Decommissioning ( DD ). Although nuclear facilities contain radioactive materials, the quantities are much smaller than when the facilities were in operation. As the reactors are no longer in operation, there is also no risk of meltdown.

If the facilities and/or the temporary waste storages were hit by a major fire or other serious accidents, there would be some risk of radioactive material being spread to the local area. However, doses from this will be limited.

Danish Decommissioning has analysed and assessed a number of pessimistic accident scenarios relating to radioactive emissions from Risø's storage facilities into the surroundings in case of flooding or fire. The radiation doses to the nearest neighbours from such accidents are estimated to be equivalent to the average dose from the naturally occurring background radiation for up to 5 months and would, in the worst case, require a clean-up of the contaminated areas.

An average radiation dose corresponding to the dose from the background radiation for 5 months gives a population of all ages a risk of around 0.01% for a late effect (fatal and non-fatal cancer and, for descendants, genetic diseases). By comparison, the total lifetime risk of non-fatal and fatal cancer in Denmark by all causes is around 30%. Thus, there is only a minimal risk associated with the decommissioning of nuclear facilities, both for local people and environment.

However, the nuclear facilities and storages contain so large quantities of radioactive material that it could be problematic for the surrounding environment in the long term if Danish Decommissioning does not take the necessary precautions. The radioactive material cannot simply be left in the area without protection. This could lead to long-term pollution of the area - e.g. with a risk of contaminating the groundwater.

The decommissioning will therefore be handled according to international standards, so that the area is completely cleaned up, leaving no long-term risk of pollution.

Page last updated: January 9, 2024


In the most pessimistic accident scenarios, an accidental emission would inflict the nearest neighbours with a dose similar to up to 5 months of natural background radiation.

On average, this would increase their risk of cancer and genetic diseases by 0.01% (which compares with an overall lifetime risk of cancer of around 30%).

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