Exercising Gravelines

30 May 2001

An international nuclear emergency exercise was carried out on 22-23 May at Gravelines, in the north of France near the Belgian border. The exercise involved a simulated incident at a fictitious unit on the Gravelines site, with the possibility of an environmental impact.

The main objectives of the exercise are to test existing national and international procedures and arrangements for responding to a nuclear emergency, co-ordinate the release of information, and assess the effectiveness of advisory and decision-making mechanisms. The exercise was jointly sponsored and co-ordinated by five international organisations: the European Commission; the IAEA; the OECD NEA; the World Health Organisation; and the World Meteorological Organisation.

During the course of the exercise, the German enviroment ministry issued a practice warning statement. The statement sent to Reuters read: “French authorities confirm a fault at Gravelines. Currently, there are no effects on Germany.” The statement went on to detail the consequences of the exercise that implied that a real incident had occurred. The ministry, when asked for further details, said that there had been no incident, and that the statement had been issued by mistake. It said in a second statement: “The aim of the exercise was to test the effective communication between the states and international organisations and the national emergency protection regimes.”

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