STUK regulates radiation and nuclear safety in Finland

The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) is a safety authority. The purpose of STUK’s operations is to protect people, society, the environment and future generations from the harmful effects of radiation.

What does STUK do?

  • Monitors
  • Researches
  • Instructs and communicates
  • Measures
  • Prepares for hazards and responds to them
  • Develops regulations

STUK’s tasks include:

Monitoring of occupational radiation exposure

Monitoring of occupational radiation exposure consists of the monitoring of radiation dose and the working conditions. Individual monitoring must always be provided for radiation class A workers, but it is often appropriate to provide individual monitoring to class B workers as well. All occupational doses are stored in the dose register maintained by STUK. STUK carries out inspections in workplaces where radiation is used.

Regulatory control of radiation practices

The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Finland (STUK) regulates the use of radiation. Radiation is utilized in health care, industry and research. The use of radiation must be acceptable, safe and planned in advance.

Regulatory control of radiation practices in health care

The use of radiation is monitored to ensure the radiation exposure of patients and staff is as low as possible. The benefits yielded by radiation use must outweigh its harmful effects. These goals are attained by educating the users of radiation, setting up appropriate guidelines and maintaining the condition of the devices. STUK grants licenses for the use of radiation and carries out regular inspections in workplaces where radiation is used.

Regulatory control of radiation practices in industry and research

In industry, radiation is used, for example, for quality control of materials, gauging the level of liquid in tanks and measuring the thickness of paper. STUK grants the licenses for use of radiation, approves procedures, maintains registers and carries out inspections at sites where radiation is used.

Regulatory control of radiation practices in veterinary medicine

The use of radiation in veterinary medicine requires a safety licence granted by STUK. The radiation exposure of staff and other persons must be kept as low as reasonably achievable, by using necessary protective equipment, for example. During a veterinary X-ray examination, only those people whose presence is absolutely necessary may stay in the examination room.

Regulatory control of small quantities of radioactive waste

A responsible party is obligated to ensure that decommissioned radiation sources and other radioactive materials are rendered harmless. Radiation sources must be returned to the manufacturer either directly or via the supplier. If this is not possible, the sources can be delivered to Suomen Nukliditekniikka.

Regulatory control of nuclear power plants

The licensee of a nuclear power plant is responsible for the safe operation of the plant. STUK is a supervising authority whose tasks include participation in the processing of license applications, supervision of compliance to the terms and conditions of the license and carrying out inspections at the plants. Furthermore, STUK issues detailed Regulatory Guides on nuclear safety (YVL Guides) and supervises compliance with them. STUK also defines the competence criteria for people responsible for nuclear safety.

Nuclear waste and material regulation

The producers of nuclear energy are responsible for the safety of nuclear waste and nuclear materials. STUK controls the safety of processing, storage and final disposal of nuclear waste, and carries out inspections at the plants. To finance nuclear waste management, power companies have a statutory obligation to collect money into a nuclear waste management fund. Nuclear material regulation is based on the international Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. STUK maintains and develops the national nuclear material regulation system, with the aim of seeing to the fulfilment of the obligations of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in Finland.

Regulatory control of transport of radioactive substances

Pursuant to the Radiation Act, transport of radioactive substances is exempted from a safety licence. Nevertheless, when transporting radioactive substances and devices containing them, the hazardous substance transport legislation must be observed. In the transport of hazardous substances, radioactive substances belong to Class 7. STUK regulates the transport of radioactive substances mainly on the basis of the hazardous substance transport legislation. Among other things, STUK approves transport packaging and transport with special arrangements and inspects transport arrangements.

Spent nuclear fuel is not transported in Finland at present, since it is stored at the power plant sites. Eventually, the spent fuel of the Loviisa nuclear power plant will be transported for final disposal at Olkiluoto, Eurajoki. The transport must fulfil the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA’s requirements. Fresh fuel transported to nuclear power plants does not create a high radiation hazard. However, the transports must ensure criticality safety, i.e. they must prevent the occurrence of an energy-releasing chain reaction. STUK is the supervising authority that grants the licenses.

Monitoring external radiation and environmental radiation

Finland is covered by a network of 255 automatic radiation detector stations that measure external radiation. The stations transmit radiation readings at 10-minute intervals to STUK and the regional emergency response centre. Nine stations in Finland measure radioactivity in outdoor air. In addition, STUK monitors the radiation safety of, for example, foodstuffs, drinking water and natural produce, and the radiation levels in the Baltic Sea.

Regulatory control of non-ionizing radiation

Non-ionizing radiation being controlled includes lasers, sunbeds, radio transmitters, certain cosmetic applications and mobile phones. Many devices, such as mobile phones and lasers, are subjected to market control with spot checks. STUK is the licensing authority for devices that need a license. Since 2012, the use of sunbeds by people under 18 years of age has been prohibited. STUK monitors the use of sunbeds in co-operation with municipal health authorities by carrying out inspections at sites where sunbeds are used, for example.

Regulatory control of exposure to natural radiation

If exposure to natural radiation is suspected of having caused a health hazard to employees, the party responsible for the operation must determine the exposure level. Exposure to natural radiation can occur in workplaces, such as offices, where the concentration of radon is high.  Radon exposure can be particularly high in underground mines and quarries. Drinking water might also expose a person to radon. Construction materials might contain harmfully high concentrations of natural radioactive materials. Moreover, long flights expose a person to natural radiation. The measurement methods of natural radiation must be approved by the supervising authority, i.e. STUK.

Regulatory control of emergency response arrangements

The licensees of nuclear facilities and use of radiation must prepare for abnormal incidents and accidents with advance plans and necessary arrangements. STUK monitors the preparedness of the licensees in Finland and issues related requirements and guidelines. In addition, STUK is the national point of contact that receives, round the clock, information about abnormal incidents or accidents related to the use of nuclear energy and radiation in Finland or abroad.

Regulatory control of security arrangements

Security arrangements protect the use of nuclear energy and radiation against illegal acts. For example, STUK creates the requirements concerning security arrangements of nuclear power plants and users of radiation sources, and supervises their implementation.