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Responsibility for People and the Environment

In some institutes of Forschungszentrum Jülich, researchers work with radioactive substances. This applies, for example, to brain research, where radiotracers are used to obtain valuable insights into the functioning of the human brain. Radioactive substances are also used in environmental research, where they help optimize pesticides – an important contribution to protecting the environment.

All the facilities where such chemical and radioactive substances are stored have numerous safeguards that effectively prevent these substances from escaping into the environment. In order to ensure that this remains the case, all the safety precautions are continually verified, technically improved, and adapted to any revised regulations. The design, construction, and operation of facilities on the campus of Forschungszentrum Jülich are therefore geared towards reliably confining and retaining hazardous substances at all times. Where necessary, additional protective, control and alerting systems are also in place.

Measuring instruments inside and outside Forschungszentrum Jülich continuously monitor the atmosphere, soil and water. Some of the measurement data are sent directly to the supervisory authority, so that Forschungszentrum Jülich cannot influence them. In addition, an environmental measurement programme is also carried out. This monitoring system ensures that no elevated concentrations of chemical or radioactive substances are present in the environment and, in particular, in food. These activities are supported by measurements from the meteorological tower, which help determine the direction in which airborne emissions propagate and the conditions under which they do so at any time.

Forschungszentrum Jülich has taken all possible measures to ensure the safety of its surroundings. The necessary precautions have also been taken to protect against a negative impact on the environment in case of accidents, such as fires, explosions, or technical failures.

Forschungszentrum Jülich has a safety control centre that is always staffed and can summon the required emergency services immediately. These include Forschungszentrum Jülich's own works fire brigade,whose members are specially trained to fight fires involving radioactive and chemical substances. As far as their resources allow, the works fire brigade and medical services of Forschungszentrum Jülich are also available to respond to any other emergencies in the region.

These measures also apply to the radioactive substances from the former Nuclear Research Centre Jülich (KFA), which must be safely dismantled and stored. Since 1 September 2015, this task has been undertaken by Jülicher Entsorgungsgesellschaft für Nuklearanlagen mbH (JEN), which comprises the full range of expertise in nuclear decommissioning, dismantling, and disposal gained at Jülich over the past fifty years. Forschungszentrum Jülich also provides safety monitoring services for JEN.