Emissions from new nuclear reactor in Petten safe for local residents

The future discharge of radioactive materials into air from the new PALLAS reactor in Petten is safe for people living nearby. This concerns radiation doses at the site perimeter and for residents of nearby Petten and Sint Maartensvlotbrug. This is the outcome of research by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) on behalf of the Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (ANVS).

Most radioactive materials filtered from the air

When the PALLAS reactor comes into operation, small quantities of radioactive materials will be released from the reactor pool into the reactor room. In this room, a constant underpressure is maintained, preventing air from escaping. This air is exhausted through a ventilation system which contains filters that remove nearly all the radioactive materials from the air. However, absolute containment is not possible. The small quantity of radioactivity that does escape is emitted through the chimney.

RIVM has calculated whether this means that people who live near the reactor are likely to receive additional radiation doses. According to the calculations, this radiation dose appears to be low. We have quantified the emissions from PALLAS and provided this data to RIVM so that they could calculate the radiation doses.

Radiation highest on eastern side of reactor site

The radiation for adults at the perimeter of the reactor site in Petten is highest on the eastern side, next to the main road (Westerduinweg). This is 0.15 microsievert per year. Sievert is the measure of how much radiation a person is exposed to over time. On average, every resident of the Netherlands is exposed to 2,800 microsievert (2.8 millisievert) annually. This radiation dose originates mainly from natural sources and dental X-rays, for example. More information explaining radiation and radioactivity can be found on the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment website.

Radiation dose in Petten and Sint Maartensvlotbrug

RIVM has also calculated the radiation dose for the two nearest residential areas: 0.011 microsievert per year in Petten and 0.014 in Sint Maartensvlotbrug, which is less than a 10,000th of the natural background radiation to which every resident of the Netherlands is exposed each year.

Verification of study by permit holder

The parties responsible for initiating PALLAS were required to investigate the impact of the emission of radioactivity in order to obtain a building permit for the reactor. This showed that these discharges are safe. We asked RIVM to verify this study by conducting its own study, in a process referred to as counter-expertise. The study by RIVM (in English) confirms the results of the study for PALLAS.

When the reactor comes into operation, PALLAS will be required to measure radioactive emissions. In line with our supervisory role, we will also ask RIVM to verify these measurements. That way, we can be sure that radioactive emissions from the nuclear sector are safe.

PALLAS: new reactor for medical isotopes

The new PALLAS reactor produces medical isotopes for medical applications, such as research and the treatment of patients with cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Construction of the reactor started in 2023 and is likely to last until 2028.