Environmental Protection and Management

Environmental Radioactivity Monitoring in PNRI Grounds and Vicinities
Radioactivity
Project Leader: Rosario R. Encabo
Science Research Specialist II
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Project Staff: Garcia, Teofilo Y.                           
Aniago, Ryan Joseph                            
Cruz, Paolo Tristan F.
Racadio, Charles Darwin T.
Omandam, Vanessa J.
delos Santos, Babylinda S.
Dela Sada, Christian L.
Objective: To measure ambient gamma radiation and to analyze the radioactivity of environmental samples collected in PNRI grounds and its vicinities.
Brief Description:

The long-lived radionuclides Potassium-40, Uranium, Thorium, and their decay progenies, together with cosmogenic radiation, are the source of natural radioactivity in the environment. Additional inputs of natural and/or anthropogenic radionuclides to the environment can also be brought by human activities such as scientific research, energy production, medical facilities and industries. Moreover, more drastic inputs can also be contributed by nuclear accident, weapons testing, and nuclear aggression.

This project will measure ambient gamma radiation and analyze the radioactivity of environmental samples collected in PNRI grounds and its vicinities in order to assess the levels of radioactivity in the PNRI grounds and surrounding areas, including the entire Metro Manila. It will also assess the dose received by the population due to possible exposure to environmental radioactivity pollution and recommend measures for mitigating the radiation exposure received, if any.

Significance/Impact: The PNRI is the sole government institution mandated to utilize and promote nuclear science and technology in the country. Although the nuclear research reactor in PNRI is no longer operating, several radioactive sources, both sealed and unsealed are being utilized by the institute. It is also worth mentioning that the PNRI is situated in Metro Manila, where a large portion of the entire Philippine population is residing and working. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct radioactivity monitoring on PNRI grounds and vicinities to determine the impact of the Institute’s activities  on the environmental radioactivity levels and the possible exposure of the general population. Furthermore, quite a number of industries, medical facilities and research institutions are operating in Metro Manila which may knowingly or unknowingly contribute to the increase in environmental radioactivity. Lastly, the radioactivity data obtained can serve as baseline or reference levels to investigate the effects of nuclear related activities or accidents that may occur in the future.
Target Beneficiaries: General public.
Project Duration: Ongoing.
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Generating Radiological Data from CTBTO Stations in the Philippines: PHP52 and NDC-PH
CTBTO
Project Leader:

Teofilo Y. Garcia
Supervising   Science Research Specialist
Head, Health Physics Research Section
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Project Staff:

Dela Cruz, Fe M.                  
Palad, Lorna Jean H.                
Cruz, Paolo Tristan F.               
Olivares, Juanario U.
Omandam, Vanessa J.
Dela Sada, Christian L.
delos Santos, Babylinda S.
Delasada, Leonardo

Objective: To develop civil and scientific applications for radiological data generated from the operation and maintenance of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Radionuclide Monitoring Station (PHP52) and National Data Center (NDC-PH) for the protection of the general public and environment.
Brief Description:

The  Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) , which is an  international organization composed of various Member States including the Philippines, aims for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons among Member States and bans the testing of nuclear weapons across the globe. To further the capacity of the CTBTO to ensure the implementation of the Treaty, the International Monitoring System (IMS) makes use of various technologies to verify the occurrence of possible nuclear events at any location. The technologies employed by the CTBTO IMS are classified as Seismic, Hydroacoustic, Infrasound and Radionuclide technologies. Currently, four CTBTO monitoring stations located around the Philippines are being operated and maintained. The Radionuclide Monitoring Station RN52, located in Tanay, Rizal and the National Data Center NDC-137 are being managed and operated by the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute.

The activities undertaken under this project are: 1. Routine operation of the CTBTO Radionuclide Monitoring Station (RN52) in Tanay, Rizal. 2. Preventive and corrective maintenance of the CTBTO-RN52 Station. 3. Checking unauthorized entry at the station, visible damages, regular refilling of liquid nitrogen at dewar, and maintaining general upkeep of laboratory. 4. Operation and maintenance of the National Data Center (NDC-PH) in PNRI, Quezon City. 5. Providing assistance to CTBTO in the renewal of station licenses and in installation of necessary station equipment. 6. Analysis of radiological data from PHP52 and NDC-PH station.

Target Beneficiaries: General public.
Project Duration: Ongoing.
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Determination of Concentration Factor of Cesium-137 in Philippine Mussels (Perna viridis)
Cesium137 
Project Leader:

Christopher O. Mendoza
Science Research Specialist I
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Project Staff:

Garcia, Teofilo Y.                          
Enriquez, Eliza B.                           
Castillo, Marilyn K.                        
Encabo, Rosario R.                        
Aniago, Ryan Joseph       
Omandam, Vanessa J.
dela Sada, Christian L.
delos Santos, Babylinda S.

Objective: To determine the concentration factors of anthropogenic radionuclide Cs-137 (137Cs),  in Philippine green mussels under controlled laboratory conditions to be used in predicting contaminations in biota.
Brief Description:

This project focuses on the radionuclide 137Cs, considered as one of the major radioactive contaminants deposited in the marine environment from radioactive fallout from nuclear accident and atmospheric nuclear weapon tests. Cs-137 is the most important radionuclide because of its long half-life (30 years) and its relevance for dose contribution. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in March 2011 in the northeastern coast of Japan, caused by the powerful earthquake and destructive tsunami, has been a major global concern because of the potential impact to marine biota posed by the release of radioactive water and radionuclide particles into the environment. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear incident has resulted in the direct discharge of radioactive materials into the coastal environment. The amount of 137Cs isotopes released from the reactor explosion posed the greatest risk to health.

The protection of humans and the environment from residual wastes and nuclear accidents is an important element of radiation protection and public policy. Establishment of a database of concentration factors of anthropogenic radionuclides  in mussels regularly consumed by the Filipino people is thus essential in understanding and quantifying potential risks from exposures to this radionuclide 137Cs. This project will be very useful in obtaining information under defined laboratory conditions that is difficult to achieve in the natural marine environment. The results will enable us to extrapolate the information obtained in the laboratory to natural conditions. This study will provide us an understanding on the uptake, accumulation and loss of 137Cs in mussels. The determination of concentration factors (CFs) is very important because it constitutes one of the most transfer routes of radioactivity back to man.

Significance/Impact:

This project aims to determine the Concentration Factor (CF) of anthropogenic radioactive nuclide 137Cs, in Philippine green mussels (Perna viridis) under controlled laboratory conditions. Concentration factors (CFs) are commonly used to predict contaminant concentrations in biota from concentrations in water. The CF (which is also known as concentration ratio or bioaccumulation factor) for a marine organism is defined as the ratioof the concentration of a radionuclide in the aquatic organism to its concentration in its marine environment under conditions of equilibrium. The significance of CF is that it is an important determinant towards a better understanding of the dispersion of radionuclides and other pollutants in our marine eco-system as in the determination of the concentration or activity of the aquatic organisms if the concentration or activity of the water in the marine ecosystem is known.

The CF is therefore used in the assessment of the potential bio-concentration of radioactivity in marine food chains that could lead to humans as well as in the quantification of radioactive contamination in the marine environment. The importance of this study is to understand the extent to which 137Cs, concentrate in water reach into aquatic organisms like mussels. Many differences exist between radionuclides regarding their ability to accumulate in aquatic organisms; the 137Cs, specifically has a tendency to be enriched in the flesh muscle of the organism.

Target Beneficiaries: General public, environment sector.
Project Duration: 2014  to 2015.
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Radiological Impact of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident in the Philippine Marine Environment
MarineEnvironment
Project Leader:

Eliza B. Enriquez
Senior Science Research Specialist
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Project Staff:

Garcia, Teofilo Y.                                 
Aniago, Ryan Joseph                           
Encabo Rosario R.                                
Castillo, Marilyn K.                               
Cruz, Paolo Tristan F.
Racadio, Charles Darwin T.
Mendoza, Christopher O.
Omandam, Vanessa J.
delos Santos, Babylinda S.
dela Sada, Christian L.

Objective: To assess the possible impact of the release of radioactivity from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in the Philippine marine environment.
Brief Description:

Immediately after the Fukushima NPP accident, the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute started undertaking marine radioactivity measurements to assess the impact of any radioactive discharges brought about by one of the worst nuclear accidents in recent times. Strategic sampling locations have been identified along the Pacific seaboard and in the West Philippine Sea.  Samples of seawater, sediment and biota were collected and analyzed for the key anthropogenic radionuclides cesium-134 and cesium-137. Both radionuclides are fission products and indicators of radionuclide contamination following a nuclear accident.

Data generated from this project will be submitted to the Asia-Pacific Marine Radioactivity Database (ASPAMARD). The updated version of the regional database will include data submitted by countries in the Asia-Pacific region after the Fukushima NPP accident.

Significance/Impact: Radioactive contamination in the marine environment is brought about by nuclear accidents, nuclear weapons testing, satellite burn-up and sea dumping of radioactive wastes. In March 2011, the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident in Japan resulted in the largest ever discharge of artificial radioactivity to the marine environment of the Asia-Pacific region. Due to the proximity of the Philippines to Japan, the possibility of atmospheric contamination (radioactive plume and fallout) reaching the country became an important concern. Radioactive discharges in the marine environment could reach the Philippine coastal areas through the dissolved radionuclides, contaminated sediments and marine biota.
Target Beneficiaries: General Public, Environment sector.
Project Duration: 2011 July to 2015 October.
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Radiological  Assessment of NORM and TENORM in the Philippine Terrestrial Environment
NormAndTenorm
Project Leader:

Lorna Jean H. Palad
Senior Science Research Specialist
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Project Staff:

Garcia, Teofilo Y.                               
dela Cruz, Fe M.                                 
Encabo, Rosario R.                             
Cruz, Paolo Tristan F.
Mendoza, Christopher O.
Omandam, Vanessa J.
dela Sada, Christian L.
delos Santos, Babylinda S.

Objective: To analyze naturally-occurring radioactive materials (NORMs) and technology-enhanced naturally-occurring radioactive materials (TENORMs) and to measure ambient gamma radiation in geothermal power plants and building materials in the Philippines.
Brief Description:

In the Philippines, industries in which TENORMs are produced include extraction of minerals, mineral sands production (e.g. monazite), phosphate ore processing, coal burning for power production, among others. An important part of TENORM management strategy is awareness by both the industry and the public, of the radiological hazards of exposure to NORMs/TENORMs. Since uranium and thorium are alpha emitters, the most significant exposure route is via inhalation or ingestion.

Many industries which process NORM-containing materials operate without realizing that their operations could give rise to NORM/TENORM wastes. The general public should be made aware that NORM/TENORMs  are not under regulatory control because of the nature of their sources. It would be of public interest and relevant in our PNRI Environmental Radioactivity Program to measure any possible release of radioactive materials from these industrial plants into the environment.

The Health Physics Research Section of PNRI is undertaking a program to monitor NORMs and TENORMs in industrial plants in the Philippines. Ambient gamma radiation measurements within the perimeters of the plant and its vicinities will also be performed.

Significance/Impact:

The widespread occurrence of NORMs means that many of the ores and minerals (coal, oil and gas, iron ore, bauxite, phosphate rock), commodities (water, building materials, fertilizer), products (ceramics), and other devices (welding rods, gas mantles, and electronic components) used by humans can obtain NORM. Activities such as mineral processing, coal burning (for electricity generation) and water treatment can modify the NORM concentrations in the products, byproducts and waste generated by these activities. In some situations, specific radionuclides can become separated from the original radionuclide mixture, such as in the volatilization of polonium and lead isotopes when coal is burnt to generate electricity and the separation of radium and uranium during the processing of gypsum to produce fertilizer. When the NORM concentrations have been modified in the material, it is called a technologically-enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material, or TENORM.

Human health is not affected in the majority of these situations, as the activity arising from the NORM levels is not very high. However, when NORM has been significantly concentrated through large-scale industrial production, occupational and public exposure to radiation can become an issue. In some industries,  this is already being addressed, but in others, NORM has not been recognized as a potentially significant problem.

Target Beneficiaries: General  Public.
Project Duration: 2015 to 2016.
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Establishment of Real-time Environmental Radiation Monitoring System in the Philippines
RealTimeERMS
Project Leader:

Teofilo Y. Garcia
Spvng. Science Research Specialist
Head, Health Physics Research Section
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Project Staff:

Garcia, Teofilo Y.                      
Cruz, Paolo Tristan F.              
Enriquez, Eliza B.                      
Olivares, Juanario U.
Aniago, Ryan Joseph                
Omandam, Vanessa J.
Racadio, Charles Darwin T.     
dela Sada, Christian L.
Mendoza, Christopher O.        
delos Santos, Babylinda S.

Objective: To provide real-time continuous  gamma level measurements from different parts of the country through the establishment of an on-line monitoring system composed of remote monitoring stations and a central data station.
Brief Description:

During emergencies that lead to extensive spread of radioactive materials such as nuclear power plant accidents, an on-line radiation monitoring system that provides real-time data of radiation level across the country is extremely indispensable. Such a system will strengthen the capabilities of the PNRI in monitoring the spread of radiological accident in the environment and assessing its effects on the population. This in turn will provide necessary actions such as sheltering or evacuation of the concerned population.

Through the International Atomic Energy Agency-Technical Cooperation (IAEA-TC) the project entitled “Strengthening the Capability of the Philippines to Face Radiation Emergencies”, the PNRI will be able to acquire two units of radiation detector systems, together with activities to develop human resource capabilities in this field. The implementation of this IAEA-TC project will require the PNRI to necessitate local support to further develop and expand the project and the installation and continuous operation of the on-line radiation monitoring system in selected strategic areas in the Philippines.

Significance/Impact:

The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant that occurred on 11 March 2011 resulted in the widespread release of radioactive materials estimated to be 10 percent of the total radioactivity release during the Chernobyl accident in 1987. This recent nuclear accident raised concerns on the radiation monitoring capabilities of the Philippines in the event that a widespread radiological accident occurs. Presently, the PNRI can only perform limited country-wide radiation measurements by carrying out field-works in the different provinces of the country. This is due to limitations in the availability of appropriate equipment and skilled personnel to carry out the task of conducting radiation measurements, in addition to the limited financial resources for sampling activities, especially in remote and hard to access areas.

Although no nuclear reactor is currently operating in the Philippines, establishing an on-line environmental radiation monitoring system is particularly important due to the fact that the Philippines is situated in a region inclining towards nuclear power generation for energy security. At present, a number of operating nuclear power plants are identified with its proximity to the Philippines, particularly in Taiwan, along with several nuclear power plants that are to be built in the region in the near future.

Target Beneficiaries: General public, environment sector.
Project Duration: 2014  to 2016.
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Temporal Variation of the Real-time Environmental Radiation Monitoring System in PNRI
TemporalVariation
Project Leader:

Ryan Joseph Aniago
Science Research Specialist II
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Project Staff:

Garcia, Teofilo Y.                      
Enriquez, Eliza B.                      
Aniago, Ryan Joseph                
Racadio, Charles Darwin T.     
Mendoza, Christopher O.        
Cruz, Paolo Tristan F.             
Olivares, Juanario U.
Omandam, Vanessa J.
dela Sada, Christian L.
delos Santos, Babylinda S.

Objective: To establish the profile of the normal background ambient gamma radiation dose rate levels through the real-time environmental radiation monitoring station at PNRI.
Brief Description:

In December of 2014, an EFRD3300 Spectroscopic Radiation Monitor was donated to PNRI by Satrec Initiative of South Korea, through the project of Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency. This equipment will be a part of the nationwide on-line network of radiation monitors to strengthen the emergency preparedness and response of the Philippines through immediate detection and real-time monitoring of radiation emergencies.

To be able to detect and estimate the magnitude of anomalous radiation levels due to radiation emergencies, it must be compared and subtracted with the baseline radiation level. This baseline is determined from the historical measurements of normal background radiation. However, statistical variations can introduce error in ascertaining the actual baseline level. Furthermore, dose rate changes due to temporal variation of natural radionuclides in air (e.g. diurnal and seasonal radon and thoron exhalation patterns, and uranium and thorium daughters wash-down during rain events) can also introduce shifts in normal background levels.

This project aims to establish the temporal profile of ambient gamma radiation dose rates measured using the EFRD3300 radiation monitor at PNRI. Through this study, the short-term and intermediate variation of ambient gamma dose rates, and its variation with respect to different meteorological conditions will  help determine anomalous radiation levels more accurately.

Significance/Impact:

The present situation in our region presents various possible wide-scale radiation emergency scenarios that may affect the Philippines. Scenarios such as nuclear power plant accidents, nuclear weapons detonation, attacks on nuclear facilities, and malicious explosive dispersion of radioactive materials can release significant amounts of radionuclides in the environment. The radioactivity released is subsequently dispersed through the atmosphere by the wind currents, which can eventually spread to distant areas, thus reaching the country. The radionuclides can result to a significant increase in environmental radiation levels over a wide area, causing  mass exposure of the public.

The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant that occurred in March 2011 resulted in a widespread release of anthropogenic radionuclides to the environment. This recent nuclear accident raised concerns on the radiation monitoring capabilities of the Philippines in the event that a widespread radiation accident occurs. The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) is the sole agency of the government mandated to advance and regulate the safe and peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology in the country. However, PNRI has limitations in performing radiation measurements, especially during radiation emergencies. Presently, the equipment and facilities of PNRI are not capable of continuous real-time radiation monitoring and immediate detection of anomalous radiation levels. The limitations in the PNRI’s radiation monitoring capabilities is a major gap in the country’s emergency preparedness and response. This gap can lead to an impeded and ineffective response that poses risks to the safety and protection of the general public during radiation emergencies.

Target Beneficiaries: General public, environment sector.
Project Duration: 2015 to  December 2015.
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Determination of Radon Levels in Dwelling Places in the Philippines and Its Possible Implications to Human Health
RadonLevelsInDwellingPlaces
Project Leader:

Fe M. dela Cruz
Senior Science Research Specialist I
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Project Staff:

Garcia, Teofilo Y.                        
Palad, Lorna Jean H.                     
Castillo, Marilyn K.                        
Olivares, Juanario U.
Racadio, Charles Darwin T. 
Omandam, Vanessa J.
dela Sada, Christian L.    
delos Santos, Babylinda S.

Objective: To contribute to the promotion of the health and safety of the general population through the radiological assessment of radon concentration levels in household dwellings and other sources of radon in the Philippines.
Brief Description:

Radon concentrations will be measured in the Mt. Pinatubo lahar-affected areas. The Mt. Pinatubo eruption on June 15, 1992, which is the second-largest volcanic eruption on earth, deposited 1.5 billion cubic meters of volcanic ash on the surrounding land. Many people have lost their homes and fields, and the government built dikes and dams to contain the lahar. Lahar is presently used in the manufacture of concrete blocks for building purposes and road construction. Most of the affected residents used the lahar as a substitute for sand to rebuild their houses and also for other new building constructions. Many of the construction companies have been utilizing the lahar as an additive in the building and road constructions. For these reasons, a research project for measuring and evaluating indoor radon concentrations, specifically in the lahar- affected areas, is hereby warranted.

Measurement of radon levels in the different type of dwellings such as houses, private and public buildings, and schools nationwide will be conducted. A radon map of the Philippines will then be generated to reflect the baseline levels of radon in dwellings in the entire country.

Target Beneficiaries: General public.
Project Duration: 2015 to 2016.
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Randon Monitoring of the Valley Fault System and Philippine Fault and Its Implication as an Earthquake Precursor
RadonValleyFaultSystem
Project Leader::

Edmundo P. Vargas
Senior Science Research Specialist
Nuclear materials Research Section
Atomic Research Division
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Project Members:

Estrellita U. Tabora
Socorro P. Intoy
Botvinnik L. Palattao

Objectives: To utilize radon in the monitoring of the Valley Fault System (VFS) and Philippine Fault as an earthquake precursor.
Project Summary:

The project aims to study the level/amount of radon gas in soils at selected sites, primarily along the Valley Fault Systems and the Philippine Fault, and correlate it to the movement of fault lines and occurrence of earthquakes. Radon gas in the environment is generated through decomposition of naturally occurring uranium. This gas seeps  and escapes through fractures and pores in the rocks until it reaches  the surface.

Monitoring of radon gas levels will be continuous until sufficient data is available to confirm if there is correlation with the movement of fault lines and the occurrence of earthquake.

Significance: The project once established, could greatly enhance the emergency preparedness of the Philippines against earthquakes.
Target Beneficiaries: General Public.
Project Duration: 2011 onwards.
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