National radiation monitoring network

The EPA operates a network of radiation monitoring stations across Ireland for use in the event of an emergency.

The radiation monitoring stations consist of air samplers, precipitation collectors and instruments to measure gamma dose rate.

Met Éireann, the Defence Forces, Local Authorities and the third level institutions UCD and SETU all help to support the work of the national radiation monitoring network.

Continuous monitoring

The EPA operates a network of 15 permanent radiation monitoring stations across Ireland, which constantly monitor radiation levels in the environment. Here you will find information on this network and how we would use it in the event of a nuclear accident overseas.


Radiation monitoring stations

Our radiation monitoring stations include air samplers  and gamma dose rate monitors. Data from the gamma dose rate monitors is continuously fed back to the EPA.

This 24-hour monitoring ensures that we are always aware of the levels of naturally occurring radiation in the environment but also that we will get the first measurements in the event of a radioactive 'cloud' reaching Ireland.

In case of an accident

If elevated radiation levels are detected, an alarm system is automatically triggered. The EPA responds to alarm activations and assesses what action is required.

The national network of round-the-clock radiation monitoring stations plays an important role in the National Emergency Plan for Nuclear Accidents.

Triggering the alarm 

In the event of nuclear incident abroad, the alert would first be raised through the European Commission and the IAEA international notification systems. The Irish radiation monitoring network would then provide the first measurements of any radioactive cloud that reached Ireland. In addition, Ireland has a treaty with the UK so that Ireland will be informed directly in the event of a nuclear accident in the UK.

Additional monitoring 

In the event of a nuclear emergency, foodstuffs, livestock, soil, vegetation, water and other environmental samples will be monitored and analyzed in the days and weeks after the accident.

For more information on post-emergency monitoring, see our FAQS section about the National Plan.


Radon washout

Occasionally, gamma radiation levels can increase temporarily due to a phenomenon called radon washout. This occurs when rain collects radon from the air and deposits it on the ground.

It results in a small - but detectable - increase in the gamma dose rate measurement, which usually lasts no more than few hours. This increase poses no health risk but may trigger the EPA alarm system – if this happens, the EPA duty officer examines the data to confirm whether or not the gamma dose rate has been caused by radon washout.