Short presentation of the CRIIRAD NGO and its laboratory

CRIIRAD (Commission de Recherche et d’Information Indépendantes sur la RADioactivité / Commission for Independent Research and Information about RADiation) is a non-governmental and non-profit organisation, and works to improve information and protection of the public against ionizing radiation/radioactivity. CRIIRAD is often quoted by the media as the “French independent nuclear watchdog group”.

CRIIRAD objectives are :

  • to give people an access to scientific information about the impact of ionizing radiations and the actual radiological contamination of their environment,
  • to improve people’s ability to participate (as citizens) to the actions and decisions in the field of environmental protection, protection of public health, the rights of future generations,
  • to give people scientific tools in order to help them to make independent preliminary assessments of a radiological contamination (CRIIRAD is organising seminars “how to use your own Geiger Muller counter),
  • to circulate information on radioprotection through a web site (www.criirad.org), leaflets and brochures, books, lectures, seminars, videos, etc. (see a selection of written material).

CRIIRAD was created in May 1986 by French citizens willing to obtain reliable data on the actual intensity of radioactive fallout from Chernobyl, the consecutive food chain contamination and the related risk for their health. At that time, the French Government stated that absolutely no radioactive contamination from the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant could have reached the French territory.

In order to verify such information, CRIIRAD set up in Valence (France) an independent laboratory specialised in radiological analysis and radio-ecological studies. Since 1986, the CRIIRAD laboratory has implemented more than 20 000 measurements by gamma spectrometry and hundreds of environmental studies in France and abroad.

The CRIIRAD laboratory demonstrated that the French territory (soil, food chain) had been contaminated by radionuclides to values exceeding health standards. Due to the lack of proper information and protection of the public, CRIIRAD and the French Association of Thyroid Disease Sufferers (AFMT) made a complaint in March 2001 to the Court of the French Republic.

The CRIIRAD laboratory is experienced in the surveillance of levels of radioactivity in air, water, soil and the food chain, whatever the source term is (natural radiation, enhanced levels of natural radiation, nuclear fuel cycle, research facilities, military facilities, hospitals, non nuclear industry). The CRIIRAD laboratory is used to make independent and critical analysis of monitoring facilities and environmental assessments established by National authorities or plant operators.

Since 1986, CRIIRAD demonstrated weaknesses of official monitoring systems in many areas : Chernobyl fallout, impact of uranium mining and milling, nuclear plants, reprocessing plants, military plants, nuclear research centres, hospitals, etc.

The CRIIRAD Laboratory is equipped with two gamma spectrometry devices in order to measure gamma-emitting radionuclides, a liquid scintillation counter in order to measure tritium and alpha and beta emitters and on site equipment (portable radiation meters, doserate meter and gamma spectrometer, radon monitor). The CRIIRAD gamma spectrometry laboratory regularly participates in French (IRSN) and international (IAEA) programs of intercomparaison and proficiency tests. It is certified by the French Department of Health for the measurement of gamma emitting nuclides in the environment and the food chain and for radon diagnosis in public buildings.

CRIIRAD is devoting its work at improving knowledge on actual radioactive discharges, environmental impacts and dose calculations in order to contribute strongly to the optimisation of doses to workers and the public. For this purpose, CRIIRAD is conducting research and radiological expertise as well as training cessions and seminars. CRIIRAD is totally independent from the Government, the National Authorities and the Nuclear Industry.

Its funding comes from the citizens who support the organisation (approximately 5 000 citizens) and the customers for which the laboratory is working (justice, city councils, county councils, regional councils, NGO’s, private citizens, companies, administration, etc…) CRIIRAD experience is now recognised internationally and people from abroad ask for CRIIRAD scientific support. For example, the CRIIRAD laboratory conducted studies :

  • In Niger for a local NGO called AGHIR IN MAN. Several missions were organised in order to help the local NGO for making an independent evaluation of the radiological impact of the uranium mines and mills situated at Arlit and Akokan. CRIIRAD discovered several problems : radioactive scrap metal from the uranium mill was sold on the city market, uranium contamination of drinking water exceed WHO standards, radioactive tailings from the uranium mill were stored in the open air, etc.
  • In Italy (Sardinia) for local NGO’s (WWF) in relation with the potential radiological impact of a US nuclear submarine base.
  • In Spain, at the request of an independent journalist. CRIIRAD demonstrated that a company (ERKIMIA) was manufacturing food additives (bicalcic phosphates) containing elevated concentrations of radioactive Lead 210 and Polonium 210.
  • In Japan for Greenpeace International and Greenpeace Japan. The mission was designed to evaluate the radiological situation before starting of a Reprocessing Plant at ROKKASHO Mura. Through press conferences and meetings, CRIIRAD also tried to improve people awareness about the future radiological contamination to be induced by radiological discharges to the atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean.
  • In French Polynesia at the request of a special commission set up by the local Parliament and dealing with the consequences of past atomic tests.

CRIIRAD support is required by many individuals and organisations in France and Abroad. But CRIIRAD resources are not sufficient to provide help to all the organisations that need it.

Here are two examples of CRIIRAD’s investigations (Click on the link to read the document) :

Radiological hazards from uranium mining - CRIIRAD 62 ko

Chernobyl fallout over France : the specific situation of the alpine environment - CRIIRAD 356 ko

 

Bruno Chareyron, CRIIRAD laboratory Manager / May 2008

To contact CRIIRAD :

CRIIRAD
Commission de Recherche et d’Information Indépendantes sur la Radioactivité.
29 Cours Manuel de Falla
26 000 Valence
FRANCE
TEL : 33 (0)4 75 41 82 50
FAX : 33 (0)4 75 41 26 48
contact@criirad.org

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