Radiation protection and radiation safety: CERN and its host states to sign a tripartite agreement.

On 15 November CERN and its Host States will sign a tripartite agreement that replaces the existing bilateral agreements in matters of radiation protection and radiation safety at CERN. It will provide, for the first time, a single forum where the three parties will discuss how maximum overall safety can best be achieved in the specific CERN context.

CERN has always maintained close collaboration with its Host States in matters of safety. “The aim of this collaboration is especially to ensure best practice in the field of radiation protection and the safe operation of CERN’s facilities”, explains Ralf Trant, Head of the Occupational Health & Safety and Environmental Protection (HSE) Unit.

Until today, CERN’s collaboration with its Host States was carried out under two sets of bilateral agreements: depending on which side of the French-Swiss border they were being carried out on, a different framework applied to the same activities.

This approach has become more and more difficult from an operational point of view. “Since, from an operational and technical point of view, CERN is a single entity, CERN saw several years ago the need for a uniform framework to discuss radiation safety and radiation protection with the two Host States”, says Enrico Cennini, Deputy Head of the HSE Unit, who is also responsible for relations with the Host States in matters of safety.

The negotiations with the competent Host States authorities – the French Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN) and the Swiss Office Fédéral pour la Santé Publique (OSFP) – started about 18 months ago. The new tripartite agreement, which is the result of these negotiations, will replace the bilateral agreements and create a single forum where the three parties will discuss how their common objective of maximum overall safety can best be achieved in the specific CERN context.

The agreement deals with a wide range of issues, including in general the protection of members of personnel and the public against ionising radiation and in particular the individual monitoring of workers by CERN’s Dosimetry Service, the management of sealed and unsealed sources, and the management of activated waste.

“To achieve the agreement’s objective of maximum overall safety in the CERN context, CERN will be transparent as to its safety rules and procedures and their implementation” explains Enrico Cennini. “We will provide full documentation on the safety aspects of our installations and the Host State authorities will, as in the past, carry out visits on site. In turn, the Host States will provide their expertise and lessons learnt to ensure use of best practice in our Laboratory. They will collaborate with the Organization to find pragmatic and viable solutions to CERN's specific problems, which are at the same time compatible with their safety requirements.”