The NEA Working Party on Nuclear Emergency Matters met on 18-19 April 2005 at NEA headquarters. Discussions covered the upcoming INEX-3 nuclear emergency preparedness exercise, the development of a policy-level exercise strategy document and future priorities for the working party.
The ongoing INEX series of international exercises have proved successful in testing and developing nuclear emergency response arrangements. The next exercise in this series, INEX-3, addresses international interest in the consequence management issues that would arise during the early phase of an incident. The INEX-3 table-top exercise focuses on decision-making mechanisms in the medium and late phases after a nuclear or radiological incident causing serious contamination. Exercise objectives cover agricultural and food countermeasures, decisions on "soft/light" countermeasures, recovery management, and public information. Currently about twenty countries have indicated their intent to hold an INEX-3 exercise in 2005, either individually or in co-operation with a neighbouring country. This exercise will be followed by an evaluation workshop in spring 2006.
The working party has also started work on the development of an exercise strategy document to address emergency exercises from the broader perspective of their role, value and effectiveness within emergency management programmes. It is anticipated that this policy-level document would find applicability within national and international emergency authorities, providing strategies and insights on exercise justification, design, conduct and evaluation based on the collective experience of the working party.
The meeting concluded with discussions on the working party's post-INEX3 work priorities. Proposed areas of interest include: a review of international harmonisation and improved inter-agency coordination; a review of lessons learnt from previous exercises; and development of advice based on best practices. The working party will also work towards a full understanding of all the relevant technical and social issues in emergency management. These range from the response planning and preparedness phase, the urgent response phase, through to the rehabilitation phase.