The NEA Expert Group on Implementation of New International Recommendations for Emergency Exposure Situations (EGIRES) met for the first time in January 2011 with the participation of six NEA member country experts (Finland, France, Spain, Switzerland, Japan and the USA) and four observers from international organisations (IAEA, ICRP and EC) and the European Platform on Preparedness for Nuclear and Radiological Emergency Response and Recovery (NERIS).
With the publication of the 2007 ICRP recommendations (Publication 103) and the probable completion of the revised International Basic Safety Standards (BSS) in the 2011 timeframe, the Committee on Radiological Protection and Public Health (CRPPH) made a decision to investigate the practical implementation of these new recommendations and standards in all exposure situations with the participation of experts from interested parties. This included implications, discussion of good practice, and consideration of emerging radiation protection issues.
Given the activities of the Working Party on Nuclear Emergency Matters (WPNEM) with respect to the INEX-3 follow-up (decision making and guidance for countermeasures), and the continuation of the INEX-4 exercise and the NEA Workshop on Practices and Experiences in Stakeholder Involvement for Post-nuclear Emergency Management (12-14 October 2010 in Bethesda, Maryland, USA), it was suggested that the WPNEM and its expert group could make a valuable contribution to the overall CRPPH objective in the area of emergency exposure situations. Additionally, past WPNEM involvement in the review of the ICRP guidance documents on emergency and existing exposure situations (Publications 109 and 111) and in the drafting of the revised BSS had placed the working party in a good position to contribute relevant experience to the topic.
Emergency exposure situations, as defined by the ICRP, are unexpected situations that may require urgent protective actions, and perhaps longer-term protective actions to be implemented. Exposure of members of the public or of workers, as well as environmental contamination, can occur in these situations. Exposures can be complex in the sense that they may result from several independent pathways, perhaps acting simultaneously. Relevant hazards should be assessed, and response actions planned in advance, with greater or lesser levels of detail depending upon the type of installation or circumstances being considered. However, because actual emergency exposure situations are inherently unpredictable, the exact nature of necessary protection measures cannot be known in advance but must evolve in a flexible manner to meet actual circumstances. In emergency exposure situations, the ICRP recommends the use of reference levels to represent the level of dose or risk above which it is considered inappropriate to allow exposures to occur and for which protective actions should therefore be planned and optimised.
The CRPPH assists NEA member countries in the implementation and enhancement of the system of radiological protection. It contributes to the adoption and the maintenance of high standards of protection for the public, workers and the environment in all activities involving the use of ionising radiations, and particularly, but not limited to the field of nuclear energy.
The INEX-4 exercise was designed to allow participants to investigate the national and, in some cases, international arrangements for responding to widespread radiological contamination of the urban environment from a radiological dispersal devise (or a dirty bomb), and the consequence management issues likely to be raised in the medium to longer term after such an event.
The NEA Committee on Radiological Protection and Public Health (CRPPH), through various sub-groups, has focused on improving the effectiveness of international nuclear emergency preparedness and management. Part of its work programme is set on exploring and developing new concepts and future procedures to enhance national and international preparedness and response management. A central approach to this has been the preparation and conduct of the International Nuclear Emergency Exercise (INEX) series.
The mission of the CRPPH Working Party on Nuclear Emergency Matters (WPNEM) is to improve nuclear emergency management systems within member countries, and to share its knowledge and experience widely. Within this framework, WPNEM activities focus on identified needs in planning, preparedness and response for the "early" and "intermediate" phases of a nuclear/radiological emergency (including accidents and consequence management for malicious acts), with a view to prepare appropriate recovery actions. The programme of work is developed in co-ordination with member countries and other international organisations.