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Importance of Emergency Preparedness Stressed at Meeting of Competent Authorities

Ms. Elena Buglova, Head of the IAEA's Incident and Emergency Centre (centre), addresses participants of the 7th Meeting of Competent Authorities held at the IAEA from 19 to 23 May 2014. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Continuous improvement of the national and international emergency preparedness and response (EPR) arrangements is crucial to the global nuclear safety regime. For five days last week in Vienna, Austria more than 140 delegates from some 80 countries and seven international organisations listened to, discussed and shared information on EPR arrangements and capabilities. They also discussed the status of implementation of two key conventions: the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident of Radiological Emergency.

The delegates attending the meeting represented the Competent Authorities identified under these conventions. They meet every two years to share experiences and challenges in enhancing emergency preparedness and response systems, lessons learned in exercises and actual radiation events, as well as to discuss the way forward. In his opening remarks to the meeting

Mr. Denis Flory, Deputy Director General, Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, expressed appreciation for the Competent Authorities' wide range of cooperation by providing experts and resources for past responses. Mr. Flory welcomed the discussions on nuclear safety/nuclear security interface in the area of emergency preparedness and response, as well as the discussion on the national emergency preparedness and response reports that were introduced to the Meeting of Competent Authorities for the first time. This provided an opportunity for sharing information, knowledge and experience in the emergency preparedness and response area.

Part of the discussion was dedicated to emergency exercises and EPR training programmes in Member States. Conclusions and recommendations made at the closure of the meeting reflected a general consensus during meeting discussions. These included encouraging attendance of future meetings of the Competent Authorities of all States, increased participation in emergency exercises and continuous improvement of arrangements that operationalize both conventions. Other recommended measures aim to further enhance areas such as international assistance and information exchange.

At the closing of the meeting Ms. Elena Buglova, Head of the IAEA's Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC), expressed gratitude to participants for very productive discussions which led to conclusions that further facilitate strengthening of the international EPR.

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