Research and analysis

Impact assessment of ionising radiation on wildlife

The behaviour and transport of radionuclides in the environment are described and the impact on wildlife is considered with regard to pathways of exposure for plants.

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This R&D project was commissioned by the Environment Agency and English Nature in January 2001 to provide up-to-date information on the impacts of ionising radiation on wildlife, upon which a robust assessment approach may be developed. This approach will also feed into the European Commission funded project ‘Framework for Assessment of Environmental Impact’ (FASSET), due to complete in October 2003.

This report describes the behaviour and transport of radionuclides in the environment, considers the impact of ionising radiation on wildlife, and makes recommendations on an approach for the impact assessment of ionising radiation on wildlife for England and Wales. The assessment approach focuses on three ecosystems representative of those considered potentially most at risk from the impact of authorised radioactive discharges, namely a coastal grassland (terrestrial ecosystem); estuarine and freshwater ecosystems. The likely scale of the impact on wildlife is also assessed in light of a preliminary analysis based on this assessment approach.