United Nations System-Wide

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)


 IAEA Strategy

See check list in annex.


Data Collection, Observation, Monitoring

Data collected from analyses of samples (from expert missions or collecting stations world-wide) at Agency's laboratories; laboratories participating in inter-comparison, Coordinated Research Projects (CRP), literature searches, questionnaires to and official data from Member States, national International Nuclear Information System (INIS) centres (in 87 countries).

Sources of data are the Agency's laboratories (Vienna, Monaco); cooperating institutions; Government, research, commercial and NGO laboratories; official Government sources.

Data gathered is wide ranging. Concentrations of radionuclides, trace metals and organic compounds in the marine environment (water, sediments, biota). Global contamination by organohalogens (Mussel Watch programme). Trace metal composition of environmental samples such as airborne particulate samples and level of mercury and methyl mercury exposure in populations. Biological and environmental reference materials and laboratory intercomparison exercises. Analytical performance of laboratories in IAEA Member States. Meteorological data including concentrations of tritium, deuterium and O-18 in precipitation. Quantitative and qualitative evaluations of changes in soil organic matter and soil nutrients as a result of changes in land management and forest clearing including nitrogen in leached water and erosion losses. Residue of pesticides in the environment. Accidentally released radionuclides in the environment. Compilation of database on greenhouse gas intensive flows of energy and materials for fossil, nuclear, and renewable energy. Isotopic composition in lacustrine deposits. Isotopic composition variations of atmospheric CO2, CH4 and CO. Information on radioactive waste management. Database maintained on world wide nuclear power reactors (PRIS), in operation, under construction and in design phase. Data on safety of nuclear power plants. Information on radiation protection and waste management. INIS collects bibliographic references and full texts of documents on environmental and economic aspects of nuclear and other sources of energy.

Data collection coordinated via dedicated meetings and direct linkages with relevant national, regional and international programmes and organizations.

Methodologies, Quality Control, Harmonization
Standardization and harmonization of environmental monitoring is pursued in CRP, Technical Cooperation projects and through training and dissemination of recommended procedures. Reference methods and guidelines have been developed.

Quality control is supported by Analytical Quality Control Services (AQCS) intercomparison runs, reference materials production, and split-sample analyses.

Assessment and Analysis
In the context of Chapter 2-Sustainable Development, Chapter 3-Poverty, Chapter 7-Human Settlements, Chapter 8-Integrating Environment and Development, Chapter 9-Atmosphere, Chapter 10-Land Resources, Chapter 11-Deforestation, Chapter 12-Desertification and Drought, Chapter 13-Mountains, Chapter 14-Agriculture and Rural, Chapter 15-Biological Diversity, Chapter 16-Biotechnology, Chapter 17-Oceans and Coastal Areas, Chapter 18-Water Resources, Chapter 19-Toxic Chemicals, Chapter 20-Hazardous Wastes, Chapter 21-Solid Wastes and Sewage, Chapter 22-Radioactive Wastes, Chapter 32-Farmers, Chapter 34-Technology Transfer, and Chapter 37-Capacity Building of Agenda 21. Radioactive and non-radioactive pollutants in the marine environment; pesticide residues in the environment and coastal regions of Asia, Africa and Central-South America; evaluation of the possible health and environmental impact of the radioactive wastes dumped in the shallow waters of the Kara Sea; Comparative Assessment of the Health and Environmental Risks from near surface disposal of solid hazardous wastes; application of integrated approaches to the development, management and use of water resources; isotope monitoring of the atmospheric part of the hydrological cycle; isotope monitoring of atmospheric greenhouse gases; safety of nuclear installations and facilities using nuclear material and/or radioisotopes and/or ionizing radiation.

Cooperation links have been established with most international organizations in the different areas listed in a. FAO, UNEP, IOC, CEC, WHO, WMO and IMO.

Techniques used are: analytical techniques (elemental analysis); standard parametric and non-parametric statistical tests; dispersion models (in the atmosphere and in the marine environment); conceptual and mathematical models for the transfer of radionuclides from soil to food crops; radionuclide analysis using low-level radiometric techniques; isotopic tracing techniques.

Bioindicators and artificial indicators as well as tracers are used e.g. human hair for large scale population monitoring of exposure to Hg and methyl mercury; milk, grass, soil, sediment for radionuclide transfer etc.

Several models have been developed for dispersion of pollutants in the atmosphere, the assessment of doses from radioactive wastes dumped in the oceans, the transfer of radionuclides in the environment and the assessment of radiation exposure of humans and the environmental species in different circumstances.

Expert Systems/Decision-support systems
Expert system for quality control of subject analysis was developed by INIS Secretariat and is implemented in the input processing for checking data received from participating Member States. More extensive use of expert systems in environmental monitoring and assessment activities is envisaged.

Early Warning Mechanisms
The Agency operates an Emergency Response System in conjunction with two Conventions adopted in 1986: the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and the Convention on Assistance in the case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency. In the Early Notification Convention, States have agreed that for an accident having actual or potential transboundary radioactive consequences, they will inter alia provide immediate notification to the IAEA and to those countries that could possibly be affected. Through the Assistance Convention, States have additionally agreed to provide all available assistance to countries responding to a radiological incident. The Conventions assign functions to the IAEA and provide guidance material for their implementation. IAEA established an Emergency Response Unit to carry out the responsibilities assigned. IAEA also has the responsibility to take preventive measures with respect to radioactive wastes in the context of the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping Wastes and other Matter (London Convention 1972).

Reports/Information dissemination

Data disseminated via scientific and technical journals, data books, IAEA technical documents and bulletins; AQCS catalogues and reports; press releases; floppy disks for certain databases. Users are: researchers, technical and scientific personnel in research and development institutions; decision-makers in governmental organizations; participants in intercomparison activities; CRP and Technical Cooperation counterparts.

Coordination of information dissemination is via dedicated meetings and inter-agency meetings. Promotion of its use is by conferences and seminars (coordination meetings, expert meetings, advisory group meetings etc.); efforts to include the information in global information systems readily accessible to most users, like the Global Environment Monitoring System (GEMS) and Global Climate Observing System etc.

The improvement of the quality of analytical data is key to helping decision-makers to rational decisions depending on analytical results. This is one of the reasons why quality control services provided by the Agency in different areas of environmental monitoring is aimed at ensuring reliable data to decision-makers. Information on pollution of the seas, coastal areas, waters, soil and the atmosphere and an assessment and analysis of pollution are presented in a form that could be immediately utilized for remedial actions: compiled reports and where appropriate, more concise summaries are made available to decision-makers. The expansion of the subject scope of INIS database to include environmental and economic aspects of non-nuclear energy was driven by the desire to provide decision-makers with complementary information. This development was intended to assist in making valid choices with regard to energy-related activities.

Network Development and Support
The Agency manages a network of laboratories participating in AQCS intercomparison exercise for analytical purposes. Global Network on "Isotopes in Precipitation " with WMO (GNIP). Networks of laboratories participating in CRP. Network of national INIS centres. There is a atabase on disposals of radioactive wastes in the world's oceans with inventory for radioactive material entering marine environment. Includes information on radionuclides entering oceans as a result of accidents e.g. due to sinking of nuclear submarines and satellite re-entry.

Potentia existsl for coordination with UNEP-MEDplan and GEMS.

There is interaction with most networks for information on sustainable development exists and being strengthened.

Information services are rendered more user-friendly and therefore more readily accessible to decision-makers by recent developments in information technology. Information and expert advice on pollution and possible remedial actions are also provided by the Agency.

National, regional and inter-regional training courses are organized regularly in the collection, evaluation and processing of environmental data (radioactive and non-radioactive pollutants) using nuclear and nuclear-related analytical techniques. Training courses are also organized in safety assessment and quality assurance. On the job training and participation in R/D is also available in IAEA laboratories for fellows, scientific visitors and research associates.

Projects have been designed to fill identified data gaps e.g.: spatial coverage of data collection is not complete in the Global network of Isotopes in Precipitation and in the marine environment. Compilation of biological and environmental reference materials. Analytical quality assurance and harmonization of environmental measurement.

Internet Access

Marine Environment Laboratory:

Responsible Office/Person (for inquiries or follow-up):
- IAEA Earthwatch Team
Mr H.S. Cherif
Office of Programme Support and Evaluation

Mr S.K. Sharma
Division of External Relations (ADEX)

Mr P.R. Danesi
Seibersdorf Laboratory (NAAL)

Mr R. Zeisler
Chemistry Unit
Seibersdorf Laboratory

Mr. K. Rozanski
Isotope Hydrology
Seibersdorf Laboratory

Mr F. Zapata
Soil Science
Seibersdorf Laboratory

Mr R.J. Hance
Agrochemicals and Residues Section
Joint FAO/IAEA Division (RIFA)

Mr S.K.A. Danso
Soil Fertility, Irrigation
Joint FAO/IAEA Division (RIFA)

Ms S.F. Stone
Nutrition and Health Environment
Division of Human Health (RIHU)

Mr R. Baschwitz
Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Management (NENF)

Mr G. Linsley
Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Management (NENF)

Mr G.A. Webb
Radiation Safety Section (NENS)

Mr M.J. Crick
Radiation Safety Section (NENS)

Mr J. Van de Vate
Division of Nuclear Power (NENP)

Mr C. Todeschini
INIS Section

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Wagramer Strasse 5
P.O. Box 100
A-1400 Vienna, Austria
Tel: +43 1 26000
Fax: +43 1 26007

Mr. Hugh D. Livingston, Director
Marine Environment Laboratory - Monaco (NAML)
4 Quai Antoine 1er, BP 800
Tel: (377) 97 97 72 79
Fax: (377) 97 97 72 75
Email: H.D.Livingston@iaea.org

Mr P.P. Povinec
Radiometrics Section

Date of preparation: August 1994, updated 7 May 1999


IAEA Medium Term Strategy extracts relevant to Earthwatch

Trend 2:  A number of trends will influence the Agency's course over the next five years:

(2) As the demand for electricity will continue to grow and the drive for sustainable development gains momentum in the energy sector, the need to exploit energy sources with limited environmental impacts could revitalize the nuclear power option.  At present the growth of nuclear power has
stagnated in much of the world, but it continues to be a strong option in some Asian countries.

Goal A, Objective A.2

(ii) Concentrating efforts with regard to application of radiation and isotope techniques on
* food and agriculture:  particularly the use of the sterile insect technique in the control and eradication of insect pests, the measurement of the effectiveness of vaccination programmes in animal health, food irradiation, the monitoring of contaminants in food and the use of saline land and salty groundwater;
* human health:  particularly cost reduction and quality assurance in radiation therapy and verifying the effectiveness of food distribution programmes to improve women's and children's nutrition;
* hydrology:  integration of isotope techniques in water resource assessment, development and management;
* environment:  monitoring of the contamination of the oceans and coastal zones by radioactive and non-radioactive contaminants.

(v) Building confidence in the safe, environmentally acceptable and efficient management of radioactive waste from both nuclear power and non-power sources, by providing technical guidance and facilitating exchange of information in areas such as:
* the development and implementation of national or regional waste repositories, in particular for high-level, long-lived waste;
* the assessment of the potential of partitioning and transmutation techniques for high-level, long-lived waste;
* the implementation of decontamination and rehabilitation technologies.

Goal B, Objective B.2.

 To develop, update and maintain standards in all areas of nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety by:
 (i) Reviewing and updating existing safety standards, taking into account technological developments, through the existing mechanism, i.e. in consultation with United Nations system agencies, international expert organizations, Member States and safety advisory committees;
 (ii) Developing new consensus standards in such areas as the safety of nuclear installations other than reactors, radioactive waste safety (including geological disposal, the management of mining and milling waste, long lived sources and residual waste) and environmental protection.

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Check list - mark (X) areas of major or minor focus.

ORGANIZATION: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Chapter 2. Sustainable Development
2D. Economic policies
Chapter 3. Poverty
Chapter 6. Health
6E. Risks pollution/hazards
Chapter 7. Human settlements
7E. Energy/transport
Chapter 8. Environment and development
8B. Legal/reg. framework
Chapter 9. Atmosphere
9A. Address uncertainties
9B. Sust energy, transport, industry, resources
9D. Atmospheric pollution
Chapter 10. Integrated management land resources
Chapter 11. Forests
11A. Multiple roles
Chapter 12. Desertification
12A. Info, monitoring
Chapter 14. Agriculture/rural development
14C. Improving farm systems
14E. Land conservation/rehab
14I. Integrated pest management
14J. Plant nutrition
Chapter 17. Oceans
17B. Marine env protection
Chapter 18. Freshwater
18A. Integrated water resource mgt
18B. Water resource assessment
18C. Protection of water
Chapter 19. Toxic chemicals
19A. Assess chemical risks
Chapter 20. Hazardous wastes
20A. Prevention/minimization
Chapter 21. Solid wastes/sewage
21C. Disposal, treatment
Chapter 22. Radioactive wastes
Chapter 25. Children/youth
25A. Youth
25B. Children
Chapter 32. Farmers
Chapter 34. Technology transfer
Chapter 35. Science
35C. Improving long-term assessment
35D. Scientific capacity building
Chapter 37. Capacity-building

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UN System-wide Earthwatch Coordination, Geneva