The CEPN Association was founded in 1976 to evaluate "Human protection in all its technical, health-related, economic and social aspects" in the nuclear domain. This objective responded to the need to open up radiological protection to social sciences and to the emerging disciplines of risk assessement and management.
To fulfil this mission, CEPN has developed a centre for methodological review and for studies on the evaluation and management of radiological risks, including activities based both on a forward-looking approach as well as on expertise anchored in radiological protection practice. The programme of the research group rapidly became structured around two major axes: the application of the optimization principle for radiological protection and the comparison of the different health and environmental risks from the energy chain. At the end of the 1970s, the approach to evaluation and management of radiological risk was marked by the publication of new recommendations by the International Commission for Radiological Protection which introduced the optimization principle (ALARA). This is a practical response to concerns regarding precautions which take into account the uncertainties associated with low doses of ionizing radiation. Furthermore, CEPN has assisted in the development of the evaluation of health and environmental impacts of the nuclear industry, taking part in comparative studies of the risks from different energy industries, carried out on the international scale. Since that time, developments in the methodology and practice of radiological protection systems have given greater consideration to the economic, social and ethical dimensions in the evaluation and management of risk.
These developments have contributed greatly to improvements in the quality and effectiveness of radiological protection, particularly through the practical application of the ALARA approach. More recently, CEPN has developed unique expertise in the social dimensions and methods of management of diverse situations involved in radiological risk (waste, contaminated regions, radon, etc.). This review was undertaken in partnership with other research teams, in particular within European projects which aimed to analyse the new issues confronting our society in terms of risk-related activities and to research ways for better social management of industrial, natural and health-related risk. Hence, for more than three decades, CEPN has developed a large store of methodological, practical and historical knowledge concerning developments and experiences in radiological protection. This store of knowledge allows it to make original contributions to the evaluation and management of radiological risk and to the development of the radiological protection culture in the nuclear, industrial and medical fields.