Despite best efforts, safety measures cannot completely guarantee prevention of high magnitude accidents, which sometimes do occur. With this in mind, it is therefore necessary that countries and organisations, are fully prepared, in order to reduce the impact of an accident on communities and the environment.
Accident Management provides a commonly accepted management structure through adopted guidelines and fundamental principles, that result in better decisions and more effective use of available resources should an accident occur.
Emergency preparedness measures the development of trans-boundary emergency plans, incident command centres, crisis action teams and response procedures, giving continuity of operational plans, limiting the consequences of an accident, and recovery methodologies.
What is an emergency?
If a larger amount of radioactive substances is released, this would be stated as a ‘radiological emergency’. This can have a direct impact on health and the environment. Radiological emergencies can be triggered, for example, by failures of technical components, by human error or by natural disasters. The most widely known nuclear accidents that included massive releases of radioactive substances into the environment occurred in 1986 in Chernobyl (Ukraine) and in 2011 in Fukushima (Japan).
Who does what in an emergency?
In a radiological emergency, depending on the type of accident, there will be close collaboration between monitoring authority and/or state authorities, plant operators and/or emergency services in the country of the accident, bordering countries and abroad. Their common goal is to deal with the emergency and to protect the population as effectively as possible from radiological consequences.
Exercises for emergency situations
For the event of an accident in a nuclear facility in a home country or neighbouring countries, a radiological emergency preparedness system should be activated immediately to warn the population against potential ionising radiation. To be able to take the appropriate protective measures in an emergency situation, the contamination of the environment must be measured and assessed quickly and reliably and the resulting radiation exposure for the local people has to be determined. Exercises should therefore be undertaken by employees of the countries monitoring authority/appointed origination to assure proper operation of the process under such conditions.
Links to Accident Management, Emergency Preparedness & Response organisations.
- UNECE Preparedness and response
- Nuclear accident management BfS Germany
- HERCA Emergency Preparedness and Response
- Radiation (emergency preparedness and public information) regulations
- SGDSN National Response Plan Nuclear or Radiological Accidents
- International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES)