China setting up emergency response team

15 May 2014

A national team is being assembled to respond to nuclear emergencies in an effort to reinforce China's preparedness. The group will supplement existing provincial and on-site response teams.

The team is being set up by the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) and the General Staff Headquarters of the People's Liberation Army. Comprising some 300 people, it will be tasked with supporting nuclear facility operators with handling contingencies in the event of a nuclear accident, such as securing radioactive sources, rescuing trapped people, controlling the spread of contamination and minimizing damage.

It comes in addition to the 16 existing provincial nuclear emergency commissions and the emergency response departments at each of China's nuclear facilities.

National drill

China has announced plans to hold a national-level nuclear emergency drill next year.

The exercise - code named Shield 2015 - will deploy emergency response resources from the state, provincial and nuclear facilities with military cooperation. It will simulate an accident during the refuelling process at an undisclosed plant in Guangdong province.

It will be the country's second such national drill, the first being held in November 2009 at the Tianwan plant in Jiangsu province.

The team will respond to 'serious nuclear accidents in complicated circumstances,' according to the head of SASTIND's nuclear emergency and security division Yao Bin. He said: 'In general, in the event of a very significant accident, the provincial nuclear emergency rescue force may be insufficient to meet the needs of the time and the national team would be sent.' He added, 'Sometimes, even if the accident itself is not particularly significant but there is public concern, we will also consider deploying the national team.'

Yao, who is also deputy head of the SASTIND-run National Nuclear Emergency Office, said that the first step will be to assemble the emergency team, while the second will be to construct a training base to support them. The team should be in place by 2015.

To help in any emergency situation, the central government also has four state-level technical support centres and six small rescue teams.

Since the Fukushima accident in Japan in March 2011, most countries have strengthened their nuclear accident preparedness. In the USA, two regional centres have been established that are capable of dispatching a full set of emergency response equipment to any affected site in the USA within 24 hours of an extreme event. In France, EDF has put in place four regional 'rapid reaction forces' that can be deployed on short notice to any of its power plants around the country.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News