The Radiation Inspection and Control Service (RICS) was established in 2002 and operates as one of the sections of the Department of Labour Inspection (Radiation Protection Section) of the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance, under the Protection against Ionising Radiation and Nuclear and Radiological Safety and Security Law of 2018.
RICS implements legislation on radiation protection and nuclear safety and security, including the management of radioactive waste, radioactivity environmental monitoring, radiological/nuclear emergency preparedness and response, and control of transport of radioactive materials. This legislation defines the general framework of obligations and procedures for authorisation of all sources of ionising radiation and of practices involving the use or may cause exposure to ionising radiation, as well as the means of protection from risks arising due to exposure to ionising radiation, and gives the power to the Council of Ministers to issue relevant regulations. Under this legislation, the Minister of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance is the competent authority in Cyprus for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety and Security and RICS is charged with the implementation and enforcement of the legislation.
The main objectives of RICS are:
- to ensure adequate levels of protection for the workers, the public, the patients and the environment from the risks arising due to exposure to ionising radiation, in various economic activities, such as in medicine, in industry, in constructions, in agriculture and in research, or due to the release or dispersion of radioactive materials or radioactive contamination in the environment, through a comprehensive radiation protection and nuclear safety system;
- to ensure adequate levels of protection for the workers and other persons at workplaces against the risks that are likely to arise from exposure to non-ionising radiation (electromagnetic fields; artificial optical radiation).
In the above context, RICS, among others:
- defines health and safety standards for practices which may cause damage to health due to exposure to ionising radiation or may damage the environment or lead to the loss of use of property caused by the release or dispersion of radioactive substances or radioactive contamination;
- authorises and inspects sources of ionising radiation and practices where ionising radiation is used or people are exposed to ionising radiation, in order to protect the workers, the public and the environment;
- keeps records of sources and practices of ionising radiation and monitors the doses received by radiation workers, the public and the patients exposed to ionising radiation;
- drafts legislation and provides advice, guidance and information to those using ionising radiation and to the public;
- approves radiation laboratories, qualified experts and dosimetry and other radiation protection services;
- coordinates or arranges for the existence of educational, scientific or other bodies responsible for advising, education, training, and other services related to radiation protection;
Ionising radiation may be of natural origin, such as cosmic radiation, various radioactive minerals and elements, radon in water and the nature or from artificial sources, such as X-ray equipment and computed tomography (CT scans), industrial radiography and nuclear reactors.
The above legislation on radiation protection and nuclear safety and protection is harmonised with the respective EU Acquis, including the Basic Safety Standards (BSS) of the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) and the IAEA International Basic Safety Standards, of which Cyprus is a member since 1965. It should be noted that the EURATOM Treaty and the various relevant EURATOM Regulations and Decisions apply directly in Cyprus.
In addition, Cyprus is a contracting or a signatory party to various other international conventions, treaties, agreements and protocols concerning nuclear safety, the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, the early notification and assistance in case of a nuclear accident or radiological emergency, the physical protection of nuclear material and nuclear facilities, the nuclear tests ban etc.
After the nuclear accident in Fukushima Daiichi, Japan, in 2011, in implementation of the legislation and in cooperation with other government services, RICS applied a dedicated inspection and sampling programme, and conducted a number of radioactivity measurements concerning the radioactivity levels in products imported from Japan and neighbouring regions.
Further to the responsibilities for enforcement and implementation of the government policy in the field of radiation protection and nuclear safety, RICS is a center of expertise in the field of ionising radiation and the point of contact for these issues with EURATOM, the IAEA and other international bodies or competent authorities in radiation protection and nuclear safety.