In a nuclear or radiological emergency, situational awareness and the understanding of the potential hazards and how they may evolve are critical for response efforts. 77 participants from 53 countries and 3 International Organizations met from 28 November to 2 December 2016 at the IAEA Headquarters to review and make recommendations on how the IAEA conducts its assessment and prognosis for a nuclear or radiological emergency. In addition, more than 40 others connected via online stream.
Central to the discussions during the week were the IAEA’s digital assessment and prognosis tools, described below, which were developed, built and exercised by the IAEA as part of its work to further strengthen emergency preparedness and response following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident. These tools comprise of a Reactor Assessment Tool, Protective Actions Assessment Tool, Radiological Source Assessment Tool and Dose Assessment Tool.
“The need for the IAEA’s assessment and prognosis was recognised during the Agency’s actions in response to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011”, said Ms. Elena Buglova, Head of the IAEA’s Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC), during the opening session of the meeting. she emphasized that, “at the time, it was not within the IAEA’s mandate to include the prognosis of the potential evolution of the accident or an assessment of its possible consequences in the information shared with Member States. This role was assigned to the Agency under the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety in 2011 and, since then we have been working continuously to strengthen our assessment and prognosis tools and capabilities”.
These new state-of-the-art tools and the new assessment and prognosis procedures have gone through rigorous testing and exercising with Member States during many international nuclear and radiological emergency exercises which were conducted to evaluate and further improve response arrangements and capabilities of the IAEA and its Member States. During these exercises, Member States were able to participate in the process and evaluate the outputs generated from the tools, including materials that were generated for press releases and technical reports.
Mr. Joseph Chaput, Incident and Emergency Assessment Officer at the IAEA, and Scientific Secretary for the meeting, said, “This was a very valuable meeting where we could share the important work we have been doing since the adoption of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety to implement the IAEA’s assessment and prognosis process. We received excellent feedback from Member States on our procedures and tools and will base our amendments on these. The next step is to finalise the tools and to actively utilize them in various exercises”.