Cave Users – urgent request for contributions to essential Radon monitoring

As you may be aware, there were some new ionisation radiation regulations (IRR17) that came into effect in 2018. These are HSE legislation and all providers that operate in caves/mines need to conform to them. The first stage of this is to produce a Radon risk assessment and establish the radon levels in the caves. Under IRR17 HSE can enforce these regulations and if an organisation is not complying, they are undergoing a “material breach” and can be fined and investigated. HSE/AALS/ARMS will be checking this as part of ongoing inspections.

To do so the caves have to be sampled for Radon concentrations seasonally. In Summer 2019 and Winter 2020 the MoD at Sennybridge helped us massively in South Wales by providing over 40 dosimeters that were placed in all the venues used in our region. In Autumn 2019 the BCA/AHOEC funded 14 dosimeters and these were placed strategically to get the best/most useful information that we could. We were hoping that the MoD would help out again but they are not prepared to at the moment, but local volunteers in liaison with the British Caving Association are still hoping to be able to conduct the necessary surveys this year on behalf of all local cave users.

Under IRR17 all providers need to employ a Radiation Protection Adviser and prove that they have the data to comply to the regulations. The BCA have managed to work with HSE so that BCA employed a RPA (£1500) so that each organisation doesn’t have to. By working together, we are reducing the costs of the sampling. Throughout the UK the British Caving Association and AHOEC have paid for the majority of the dosimeters for Northern England, Mendips, North Wales and Southern England to the tune of £4300 and £1000 respectively. However, this does not currently cover South Wales (because we previously had MoD support), so SWOAPG is asking whether Providers can contribute to the Spring 2021 set of sampling. The cost of a single dosimeter is approximately £25. These are purchased from Public Health England and then volunteers place and collect the dosimeter and then return them to PHE who analyse them and return the data. This should be the last major set of sampling as once we have data from all 4 seasons for the venues we should not need to do anymore for several years. If providers contribute enough, we would consider doing some more in Autumn 2021 to fill in the gaps from the smaller Autumn 2019 sampling. We need to have the dosimeters in place by mid-April and it takes two weeks to order from PHE so time is short.

We understand that things are tight at the moment, but we are looking to support our caving providers who are required to meet this legal requirement by promoting this initiative. If you would be willing to contribute the cost of one or more dosimeters, please contact the SWOAPG Coordinator by 19 March. Thank you!

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