New IAEA system to streamline communications

22 September 2011

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC) has launched a new secure web-based communications platform to unify and simplify information exchange during nuclear or radiological emergencies.


The Unified System for Information Exchange on Incidents and Emergencies (USIE) has been in development since 2009 but was actually launched in June during the emergency response to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. It replaces two existing communication systems: the Emergency Notification and Assistance Convention (ENAC) website, and the Nuclear Event Web-based System (NEWS).

A sustained and reliable flow of information is one of the most important resources in effective incident and emergency response, the IEC points out. Nuclear or radiological emergencies present a complex set of challenges, and a constant flow of detailed, reliable information is vital to marshal and coordinate appropriate response, such as the prompt mobilisation and dispatch of specialised personnel and equipment. The IEC provides a global focal point for coordination and information exchange between the IAEA's member states.

Prior to USIE's launch, the two secure websites provided by ENAC and NEWS provided such information. ENAC was set up for the exchange of information on nuclear accidents or radiological emergencies. NEWS, a joint project of the IAEA, OECD/NEA and World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) provided authoritative information on events using the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES). This meant users needed to monitor two systems, and also that information in some cases would be duplicated across the two systems.

Like its predecessors, USIE is a secure website which can be accessed by registered users. Users can choose to be alerted by text, email or fax whenever new information is issued about any type of incident, ranging from a lost radioactive source to a full-scale nuclear emergency. The system tracks multiple events and only issues information that has been authenticated by the country reporting the incident. Demanding security standards provide extra assurance on the reliability of the information.

Denis Flory, IAEA deputy director general for nuclear safety and security, said the new system fulfilled a need from the emergency response community. "When the IAEA's member states respond to a nuclear incident or emergency, they need a single, secure, straight-forward system that easily adapts to their needs. That is exactly what USIE does," he said.

IEC head Elena Buglova said the new system would strengthen international coordination, making the global response to all types of nuclear and radiological emergencies quicker and more effective. "For the first time, this simple-to-use and effective system streamlines mechanisms for reporting and sharing information about incidents and emergencies in a secure information exchange channel," she said.

The new system will host two interfaces: a protected website available only to officially designated users in IAEA member states, on which all reporting and data entry will take place and through which assistance can be requested, and a public read-only website through which information can be channelled as needed.


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News