NEA reports on an 'all-hazards approach'

15 January 2018

The OECD-Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) has produced a new report that highlights the value of an "all-hazards approach" to emergency preparedness and response (EPR). The report incorporates the lessons learned from non-nuclear events.

The report notes that the International Atomic Energy Agency's General Safety Requirements (GSR No.7), Preparedness and Response for a Nuclear or Radiological Emergency (IAEA, 2015), "encourage, to the extent practicable" the inclusion of the emergency management system in an all-hazards framework. The OECD Council "similarly supports" the integration of a nuclear emergency management system into a comprehensive, all-hazards and transboundary approach to country risk governance as a foundation for enhancing national resilience and responsiveness. it adds.

Noting that NEA member countries have developed effective EPR arrangements for nuclear facilities and off-site response organisations, the report says these arrangements have usually been tested through exercises involving the facility and off-site response organisations.

"EPR arrangements have thus been enhanced as necessary to include lessons learnt from nuclear emergency exercises, nuclear power plant accidents such as the accident at Fukushima Daiichi and changes to international guidance. While nuclear power plant accidents are very rare, industrial non-nuclear events and natural disasters occur more frequently and can have a potentially large impact on populations and on widespread geographical areas," the report says.

"As a result of these events, populations may be required to take part in protective actions such as sheltering, evacuation and the restriction of food supplies. Research on these types of non-nuclear events and natural disasters has been extensive and has led to an understanding of factors that have supported the effectiveness of response activities, as well as those factors that may have degraded the response. This type of information can be used to enhance existing preparedness efforts for nuclear power plants, for other industrial facilities and for natural disasters in an 'all-hazards' framework," it adds.

The report covers: OECD activities on chemical accident prevention, preparedness and response; lessons learned from major accidents relating to emergency response; lessons learned from crises; emergency planning and response for natural hazard-triggered technological accident (Natech) accidents; public health lessons learned from other disasters involving exposure to toxic substances; the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's review of emergency planning and responses to non-nuclear events within the USA; and integrating lessons learnt from nuclear and non-nuclear events in national emergency plans in Japan's experience.

A common issue shared by both the nuclear and non-nuclear industries, for example, is that of identifying a wide range of accident scenarios, from design-basis to beyond-design-basis accidents.

"Consideration of such a broad range of accident scenarios would ensure that planning efforts are robust and would provide for adequate protection of public health and safety," the report says.

The report concludes that EPR for nuclear power plants (NPPs) in OECD countries is "well-defined and well-practised", adding that a comparison between nuclear power plant EPR and the events described in the report "reveals no gaps" in planning. Reviewing the responses to accidents in other hazardous industries and events, such as weather-related natural disasters, "enables planners to learn from those responses and enhance their own programmes where appropriate", it says.

"While there are unique aspects to radiological/nuclear EPR, most of the aspects of planning are very similar to planning in an all-hazards framework. For example, protective actions need to be taken for NPP accidents as well as chemical accidents and natural disasters. These can be the same types of protective actions (i.e. evacuation). Review of evacuations in many non-nuclear events can reveal lessons learnt that can enhance the effectiveness of similar protective actions around NPPs," the report says. The need for "rapid and accurate" information is similar for both nuclear and non-nuclear events, it adds.

Analysis of communication strategies employed during non-nuclear events enables NPP EPR planners to employ up-to-date communications strategies that can result in "more effective messaging" to the public or between response organisations, it says.

"This report shows the similarity in EPR planning across all sectors, and identifies lessons learned and good practices. Incorporation of these lessons learnt and good practices into the nuclear field builds strong emergency preparedness and response, as well as national resiliency. The IAEA and the OECD recognise the importance of a strong and unified response and urge the inclusion of radiological emergency preparedness to the event possible in greater comprehensive all-hazards emergency planning," it says.

Lessons from a multidisciplinary perspective in fields other than nuclear energy can be used by countries, as appropriate, to enhance their already robust nuclear EPR systems, it says. The report can also be a "valuable tool" for OECD countries in implementing the OECD Council Recommendation on the Governance of Critical Risk that members establish and promote a comprehensive, all-hazards and transboundary approach to country risk governance to serve as the foundation for enhancing national resilience and responsiveness, it adds.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News