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IAEA Training Courses Help Asia and the Pacific Countries to Identify Gaps and Improve Emergency Preparedness and Response Arrangements

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International expert and Head of the Emergency Preparedness Division of the Slovenian Nuclear Safety Administration, Metka Tomazic delivers a lecture during the training course. (Photo: IAEA)

EPRIMS, an interactive, web-based tool which enables users to self-assess their emergency preparedness and response (EPR) arrangements for nuclear and radiological emergencies, was the topic of two IAEA training courses conducted recently for experts from Asia and the Pacific.

The training courses, delivered through the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme[1], were split into two sessions—one for West and Central Asian countries and one for East Asia— and took place from 10 to 21 August. The aim of the two courses was to promote the effective use of the Emergency and Preparedness Information Management System (EPRIMS), and to help countries assess their own compliance with Part 7 of the General Safety Requirements.

Summarizing the training’s benefits, IAEA Emergency Preparedness Officer Muzna Assi said, “EPRIMs promotes comprehensive information sharing, which is essential for the effective preparedness of Member States to respond to nuclear or radiological emergencies, irrespective of their initiator. Seven countries updated their EPRIMs profiles, and that was an outstanding outcome of the IAEA support provided.”

The training courses consisted of a series of presentations and lectures from the staff of the IAEA’s Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC), followed by exercises for participants and a series of open discussions with experts.

 EPRIMS also contains a database of nuclear power reactor information and associated technical data, and the system is open to all IAEA Member States. The courses trained participants to carry out self-assessments using EPRIMS, and to measure the performance of their institution or organization against the provisions of GSR Part 7, which include the establishment of an emergency management system, the designation of roles and responsibilities and the accurate assessment of hazards, among other requirements.

Samer Jamal Ahmad Al Kharouf, a Nuclear Radiation Affairs Adviser of the Supreme Council for Environment of Bahrain, said, “I greatly benefited from the lectures and presentations given by the IAEA experts, and the discussions within my individual group were very beneficial. This workshop will help Bahrain update our modules in EPRIMS.”

Counterparts from the Vietnam Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Safety (VARANS) participate in the training course. (Photo: VARANS)

Sharing and learning

Throughout the two-week training, a total of 39 EPR Officers, national regulators and country coordinators from 18 countries in the region were guided in the elaboration of their individual country profiles in EPRIMS and subsequently the use of the system for self-assessments.

“This workshop was very interesting for us, as we want to begin working on the EPRIMS modules for Lebanon. This training course provided us with an overview of how to identify gaps in our ERP, and the breakout sessions were very useful. In particular, the discussions between different representatives and participating national experts, and the lessons we gleaned from the experiences of other countries, was very helpful to us,” said Rana Baydoun of the Lebanese Atomic Energy Commission (LAEC).

Demonstrating the value of exchanging information regionally through EPRIMS, the participants also worked together in teams to solve simulated challenges, explore the features of the database and to share their progress, experiences and best practices in the development of EPR arrangements in their respective countries.

During her closing remarks, Director of the IAEA TC Division for Asia and the Pacific, Jane Gerardo-Abaya highlighted the importance of regularly updating EPRIMS. “Updating EPRIMS is crucial for accurately reflecting the real situation in our Member States. EPRIMS serves as an important source of information, allowing Member States to design and implement TC projects which address their unique needs or capacity gaps.”

[1] RAS9089, ‘Strengthening Radiation Safety Infrastructure’

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