IAEA developing natural hazard alerting system

04 October 2021

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is developing a system that will alert the Agency of natural hazards - such as floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and wildfires - that could potentially affect nuclear sites. The External Events Notification System (EENS) would then trigger the IAEA's response and services offered.

The new External Events Notificatio System will be based on the DisasterAWARE system, a multi-hazard monitoring and early warning platform (Image: Pacific Disaster Center)

The system is being developed in collaboration with the University of Hawaii's Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) and Tenefit, an Internet application developer. PDC's technologies and methodologies originated to help protect the Hawaiian Islands and vulnerable communities throughout the Pacific from natural hazards and have expanded over time to cover the world.

EENS will be based on PDC's DisasterAWARE system, a multi-hazard monitoring and early warning platform. It will provide the IAEA access to hazard and impact information for timely reaction to events that could threaten the safety of nuclear facilities.

The notification system will consist of two main modules: the Alert System and the External Event Damage Forecast. The DisasterAWARE system will feed the Alert System in real time and monitor the globe for hazards that could impact nuclear facilities. The forecast module, which will receive information from the Alert System, will produce a preliminary estimate of the impact on nuclear facilities and populated areas.

A report, based on the damage forecast, will be sent to the IAEA's Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC) within 30 minutes. The IEC is the global focal point for international emergency preparedness, communication and response to nuclear and radiological incidents and emergencies. The report will include a map and data sheet, describing characteristics of the hazard. In the case of a tsunami, for example, the report will include a propagation map, source of the tsunami and estimated arrival time to nuclear installation sites.

In the first phase of the EENS development, the notification system will be configured for two priority hazards - earthquakes and cyclones. The system will then be expanded to cover tornadoes, tsunamis, wildfires, floods and volcanic eruptions. The EENS is expected to be launched in 2022.

"Risks posed by natural hazards are increasing in frequency and intensity because of climate change," said Paolo Contri, Head of the External Events Section at the IAEA. "Our new External Events Notification System will help countries prevent, mitigate and manage risks related to natural hazards.

"Lessons learned and data gathered through the notification system will be shared with the nuclear community, confirmed by fact finding missions and further analysed to steer our programmes and services."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News