Similarly to previous years, a campaign also takes place this year under which private persons and companies can give away orphan sources free of charge. The campaign lasts until mid-June.The radiation source is a radioactive device or substance, which is harmful to both human health and the environment. In Estonia, devices containing radioactive sources can be found in industry, medicine, science, as well as in normal use (such as smoke detectors containing plutonium). The radiation sources can sometimes have a very high level of activity and therefore, cause excessive radiation doses for those who find them and those who are exposed. Due to one such a case of misuse, a person was killed in Estonia in 1994.
The first half of the 1990s saw the privatisation and repeated resale of many industrial companies, discontinuation of their operation and unregulated scrap metal business, therefore, radiation sources can be quite often found in Estonia. Radiation sources may also reach Estonia from neighbouring countries, because not all border crossing points are equipped with corresponding identification devices and the radiation source can also be well shielded.An orphan source is such a radiation source that has been abandoned, lost, misplaced, stolen or transferred so that it is not duly reported to the Environmental Board, the new owner or the inspector. Generally, a radiation practice licence has not been issued for the possession, holding or use of such source.
The campaign of collecting radiation sources has previously taken place in 2009, 2010, and 2012. During the campaign of 2009, a total of 117 radiation sources were collected within one month, in 2010, a total of 214 sources and 1.5 m3 radioactively contaminated metal within three months, and in 2012, a total of 199 sources and 2.5 m3 radioactively contaminated scrap metal within two months.
If someone holds any radiation sources or has noticed something suspicious that could be considered a radiation source, the finding should be communicated to the radioactive waste handler A.L.A.R.A. AS by telephone +372 6 741 366 until 14 June. The notifier will be contacted with as soon as possible and the time will be agreed on when the employees of A.L.A.R.A. AS take the radiation source away. It is strictly forbidden to transport the radiation source yourself. A.L.A.R.A. AS organises the transport of collected radioactive waste to Paldiski radioactive waste management centre, as well as the proper handling and storage of waste in their transfer station.
The campaign is organised by the Ministry of the Environment in cooperation with A.L.A.R.A. AS and the Rescue Board, and it is supported by the Environmental Investment Centre.