Professional summary

Remediation after nuclear accidents

Brenda has worked for many years on the various methods to mitigate the impact of nuclear accidents. Her key focus has been on the accident at Chernobyl in 1986, focusing on the impact in the UK, Western Europe and in inhabited areas near the nuclear power plant, and in Japan after the Fukushima Daiichi accident in 2011.

The knowledge on remediation gained after Chernobyl and other accidents was synthesized in the IAEA handbook (TRS 475) edited together with Sergey Fesenko on ‘Guidelines for Remediation strategies to reduce the radiological consequences of environmental contamination’. She also drafted the remediation text in the report of the International Experts´ Meeting on Decommissioning and Remediation after a Nuclear Accident and was a member of an IAEA mission evaluating the progress of remediation in Japan (Jan 14).

Brenda chaired a sub-group preparing text on remediation in Technical Volume 5/5 (Post-accident recovery) of the Fukushima Report of the IAEA. At the IRPA meeting in June 2016 she presented a comparison of remediation after the Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi accidents in collaboration with colleagues involved in preparing the Fukushima Report. She is currently working on reviewing peer-reviewed literature on terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems contaminated after the Fukushima Daiichi accident as part of the Expert Group for the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR).

In July 2015, she chaired a special symposia at the 13th International Conference on the Biogeochemistry of Trace Elements (ICOBTE) in Japan, followed by an associated workshop near Fukushima. These meetings were arranged under the COMET EU project with the Institute of Environmental Radioactivity at Fukushima University.

Radiation protection of the environment

Much work has been done over the past decade to develop a system of radiation protection for organisms. Brenda co-edited a special issue which described the development and application of one of the two freely available models now used to make such assessments, the ERICA Tool.

Subsequently, the PROTECT project (Protection of the environment from ionising radiation in a regulatory context) provided a scientific justification to propose numerical targets or standards for protection of the environment from ionising radiation.

She led a NERC Knowledge Exchange project that provided training on the application of the ERICA Tool. Whilst chairing Working Group 5 of the IAEA EMRAS II programme (Environmental Modelling for Radiation Safety), they produced a Handbook compiling Concentration Ratio (CRwo-media) values to quantify the transfer of radionuclides from environmental media to wildlife. She has edited a special issue on the development and application of the handbook.

Radionuclide transfer in the foodchain

Radioactivity in animal products is a potentially important source of ingested dose to humans. Brenda has studied the transfer of radionuclides to agricultural and wild animals for 34 years. She leads a team which provided an updated list of transfer parameter values for animal products in the human foodchain in the International Atomic Energy Agency Technical report Series TRS 472. These are currently being revised with the first revised tables for goat milk recently published.

Within the IAEA MODARIA (Modelling and Data for Radiological Impact Assessments) programme she is chairing WG 4 addressing Analysis of radioecological data in IAEA TRS publications to identify key radionuclides and associated parameter values for human and wildlife exposure assessment. Many of the WG4 activities are focused on developing a database of Kd (distribution coefficient) values in soils and sediments. One recent paper considers how we can identify those data gaps which matter and deserve attention during assessments.