While the safety record of nuclear power has been strong in recent years, there is always room for improvement. Later this summer, a simulated event will take place in Mexico to gauge the effectiveness of national and international emergency response systems. The test will enable participants - including IAEA experts - to review their state of readiness, safety practices and communications mechanisms.
Over 60 IAEA Member States and 10 international organizations will participate in the planned mock radiation emergency at the Laguna Verde nuclear power plant in Alta Lucero, Mexico. The two-day exercise - scheduled for 9-10 July 2008 within the framework of a "Joint Radiation Emergency Management Plan" - will assess the technical aspects of global response mechanisms and gauge the effectiveness of communications between possible crisis partners. During the mock emergency drill, the IAEA´s Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC) and other emergency response bodies will spring into action as if a severe radiological emergency were actually occurring.
Every few years, the Inter-Agency Committee for Response to Nuclear Accidents (IACRNA), whose purpose is to coordinate the actions of relevant international organizations in the case of a radiological emergency, works in conjunction with other States and organizations to test global emergency preparedness. The previous such event took place in May 2005 at the Cernavoda nuclear power plant in Romania and was viewed as a success.
Exercises such as the planned Laguna Verde simulation are one of several functions that the IAEA coordinates through long-established Emergency Conventions, legal instruments that have set structures on how information exchange and emergency assistance cooperation is conducted in the wake of a radiological emergency or nuclear accident.
Member State participation in the July exercise is expected to exceed that of the 2005 simulation in Romania.
Upon completion of the Laguna Verde exercise, the IAEA will prepare and release a report, summarizing the major findings of the simulation and providing insight into possible shortcomings in national/international emergency response systems. The exercise at Laguna Verde is only a test and will not pose any risk to the public.
The simulation is being coordinated by the Working Group on Coordinated International Exercises as part of the Inter-Agency Committee for Response to Nuclear Accidents (IACRNA). The Laguna Verde group exercise is comprised by the IAEA, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD/NEA), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Mexico and the Mexican neighbouring countries.