Be prepared to respond and protect!
A nuclear power program needs to be developed based on a strong foundation of safety requirements. A newcomer state should establish robust emergency preparedness and response arrangements and capabilities that would enable a timely and effective response for a radiation emergency. Emergency planning is a key element of the nuclear facility safety for the State as it regulates the last level of defense in depth for protecting people and environment from radiation emergencies.
(Defense in depth means establishment of several systems of response and protection so that only if all of them would fall down the environment and people would be harmed).
The goal of emergency preparedness is to ensure that an adequate capability for an effective response in a nuclear or radiological emergency is in place at all state levels. That capability relates to an integrated set of infrastructural elements, among which are responsibilities, authorities, staffing and organizational structure, equipment and facilities, effective management system and leadership.
In order to ensure that capability, a state wishing to embark on a nuclear power program should develop emergency planning and response (EPR) framework. For that, comprehensive consideration for the possibilities of potential hazards and their consequences is necessary. The goal is to develop all the necessary measures to respond to the possible hazards and mitigate the consequences.
The emergency planning and response framework is an essential part of nuclear power program safety infrastructure. Generally, States already have such framework for conventional hazards; however, developing a nuclear power program requires its expansion. It can be achieved by assessment of the existing framework by the Government to define the gaps to be filled for it to correspond to nuclear safety requirements. It is also the Government’s duty to inform the stakeholders of the EPR implications of the Nuclear Power Program.
Emergency arrangements must start early in the nuclear facility project and it is essential that EPR framework is considered and taken into account as soon as the site is selected to ensure feasibility of the implementation later on.
To deal with all those requirements the state must consider developing or amending the relevant legislation and acquire the necessary capability to manage nuclear emergencies. For that, tradiation emergency response plans and procedures should be established, tested and verified for both on-site and off-site at all levels (operator, local, regional and national levels).
It is vital that at the stage when the nuclear facility is ready to be commissioned, a fully functioning emergency planning and response framework is in force.