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A Clear Voice in a Nuclear Emergency

This graphic shows a simulated display of radioactive contamination levels during a nuclear accident. (Image: IAEA Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC))

Following the Fukushima nuclear accident, the IAEA Member States unanimously endorsed the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety in September 2011. The Action Plan expanded the communications role of the IAEA during a nuclear emergency "to provide Member States, international organizations and the general public with timely, clear, factually correct, objective and easily understandable information during a nuclear emergency on its potential consequences, including analysis of available information and prognosis of possible scenarios based on evidence, scientific knowledge and the capabilities of Member States."

Since the Action Plan was endoresed two years ago, the IAEA Secretariat has been developing a comprehensive process to provide assessment and prognosis during a nuclear emergency.

During the 57th IAEA General Conference, the IAEA Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC) held an event on Tuesday, 17 September 2013, on the measures the IAEA will employ to assess and predict developments during a nuclear power plant emergency, and how this technical information can be relayed in an understandable manner for non-experts.

After reviewing the Secretariat's activities to expand its assessment and prognosis capabilities undertaken in the past 24 months, the IEC provided an overview of future planning. The IEC Head, Elena Buglova, emphasized the importance of cooperation and collaboration with Member States to achieve and maintain a truly robust process for assessment and prognosis during any type of nuclear emergency. During the detailed presentation, the IEC discussed the potential utilization of the IAEA Response and Assistance Network (RANET) in this process, as appropriate.

In an emergency, information that is vital for developing assessments may not always be available, nor can prognoses be provided with complete certainty. Thus, clear and effective communication in a nuclear emergency presents predictable challenges that can be addressed through effective emergency preparedness. The IAEA Secretariat will continue to collaborate with Member States to further develop, maintain and implement the expanded mandate.

Last update: 20 Sep 2017

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