Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII)

History and Background

The RPII was officially established in 1992 and was merged with the EPA in 2014.  Here we give an overview of the history and background of the organisation up the the time of the EPA merger.

Before the RPII (1973 - 1992)

Between 1973 and 1992, the Nuclear Energy Board (NEB) was the organisation in Ireland responsible for matters relating to ionising radiation.

The NEB was established by the Nuclear Energy Act, 1971, as the regulatory authority for a nuclear power station which was being considered at the time.

The NEB was asked by the then Minister of Transport and Power to advise on whether the proposed site of Carnsore Point, County Wexford was suitable for a nuclear power station.  The Government subsequently decided against establishing nuclear power in Ireland.

During the 1980s, the emphasis of the work of the NEB shifted towards radiation protection and environmental monitoring, particularly after the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986.  In the aftermath of the accident, rising public concern over the dangers posed by radioactivity led to a strengthening of the NEB, including increased staffing and facilities.

The founding of the RPII

The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) was established in April 1992, under the Radiological Protection Act, 1991.

The RPII took over the responsibilities previously held by the NEB.  These powers, however, were substantially broadened beyond those of its predecessors and in line with advancing scientific knowledge.

The title of the new organisation reflects these new priorities.  Since its foundation, the RPII has focused primarily on protection of the Irish public from the health and safety risks posed by ionising radiation.

Broader powers for the RPII

In May 2000, the Irish Government brought in landmark legislation which substantially widened the scope of the RPII's responsibilities.

The Radiological Protection Act, 1991 (Ionising Radiation) Order, 2000 (Statutory Instrument 125 of 2000) designated the RPII the competent authority responsible for licensing and regulating all sources of ionising radiation, natural as well as artificial.

The RPII played a vital role in promoting and shaping the landmark legislation.

The RPII: influencing, educating and protecting

From its establishment, the RPII played a vital role in:

  • Educating the public on the risks of ionising radiation
  • Contributing to Government policy on radiation protection matters
  • Licensing and regulating the possession and use of ionising radiation in medicine, industry, research and education
  • Maintaining a national laboratory for the measurement of radioactivity levels in the environment
  • Providing dosimetry and instrument calibration services
  • Assisting in the development of national plans to deal with nuclear accidents and incidents
  • Conducting and promoting research on a range of areas relevant to radiation protection
  • Drawing up national radon maps indicating the geographic areas most likely to be affected by high indoor radon concentrations
  • Driving forward programmes of radon measurement and remediation in homes, workplaces and schools
  • Representing Ireland on international bodies dealing with radiation protection and nuclear matters
  • Cooperating with radiation protection authorities and other relevant organisation overseas

Although now merged with the EPA, there is no diminution with Ireland's commitment to either environment or radiological protection, arising from the merger.

Learn more

Read about the EPA and RPII Merger