An IAEA-based international nuclear emergency response network has become operational through receipt of its first pledges of assistance from four Member States. Finland, Mexico, Sri Lanka and the United States have stepped forward to make the initial commitments to the Response Assistance Network (RANET), a global response arrangement designed to coordinate international assistance in case of a radiation incident or emergency.
"With these initial registrations, we have successfully launched the first phase of RANET," said Warren Stern, Head of the IAEA´s Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC). "When designing the system, we worked with a group of countries to make sure that RANET was interoperable and responsive to a State´s needs in the event of an emergency. We´re pleased with the breadth of capabilities we´ve received thus far and look forward to further registrations from Member States."
The backbone of RANET´s capabilities consists of technology and trained experts which could be made available for on-site emergency response assistance. In the event of a serious radiological incident, a Member State can request support from RANET when the event's consequences exceed its domestic response capabilities. RANET's emergency response would be coordinated by matching the affected State's needs to the network's resources.
The preliminary capability registrations made to RANET include:
- Use of a radiation biodosimetry laboratory from Finland, technology used to calculate radiation doses to potential accident victims;
- Capabilities in radiation monitoring, environmental measurement, source, search and recovery, and internal dose assessment by Mexico;
- Measurement capabilities and a source search and recovery team by Sri Lanka; and
- On-call nuclear data analysis capability and atmospheric plume modeling capabilities from the United States.
In addition to the initial registrations, several States are currently preparing their RANET competencies. The registrations of a State´s capabilities to RANET can be updated as needed.
Commitments such as those made by Finland, Mexico, Sri Lanka and the US are vital to RANET´s effectiveness. While the IAEA maintains an advisory and coordination role for RANET, the network´s strength is dependent largely upon Member State participation. The IAEA may also deploy a response team to evaluate the emergency and provide on-the-ground recommendations that utilize RANET capabilities.
RANET is hosted by the IEC, an IAEA effort established in 2005 to merge international preparedness, communication and response to nuclear and radiological incidents.
The impetus for RANET stems from responsibilities assigned to the IAEA from the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency. The Assistance Convention is a legal instrument that stipulates that States collaborate among themselves and with the Agency in the event of a nuclear accident. It also assigns functions and responsibilities to other international organizations that map to their own skills and competencies.
The Convention was adopted by the IAEA General Conference in a special session in 1986, and was motivated in part by the Chernobyl accident.