The OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) has produced a new report “Towards an All-Hazards Approach to Emergency Preparedness and Response” which looks at “lessons learned from non-nuclear events”. It includes OECD activities on chemical accident prevention, preparedness and response; lessons from major accidents and crises; emergency planning and response for natural hazard-triggered technological accident accidents; and public health lessons from disasters involving exposure to toxic substances. It also details the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's review of emergency planning and responses to non-nuclear events within the USA, and integrating lessons from nuclear and non-nuclear events in Japan's national emergency plans.
The report was published on the NEA website on 15 January. It notes that the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA’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. It says the OECD Council "similarly supports" 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.
The report notes extensive research on non-nuclear events and natural disasters has led to an understanding of factors that have supported the effectiveness of response, as well as factors that may have undermined it. “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."
The report concludes that emergency preparedness and response (EPR) for nuclear plants in OECD countries is "well-defined and well-practised”. However, 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.
The report said that 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 reactor accidents as well as chemical accidents and natural disasters. These can be the same types of actions (i.e. evacuation).
"This report shows the similarity in EPR planning across all sectors and identifies lessons learned and good practices." It said that by incorporating the lessons learnt and good practices into the nuclear field will build 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."