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 totally four observers from international organizations (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 Radiation 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 includes implications, discussion of good practice, and consideration of emerging radiation protection issues.
Given the recent 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 continuing INEX-4 exercise and the NEA workshop on practices and experiences in stakeholder involvement for post-nuclear emergency management (12-14 October 2010 Bethesda, Maryland, USA), it was suggested that the WPNEM with its expert group could make a valuable contribution to this overall CRPPH objective in the area of emergency exposure situations. Additionally, the 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 has placed the Working Party in a good position to contribute relevant experience to this topic.
Emergency exposure situations, as defined by 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 flexibly evolve to meet actual circumstances. In emergency exposure situations, ICRP recommends the use of the reference levels which represent the level of dose or risk, above which it is judged to be inappropriate to plan to allow exposures to occur and for which therefore protective actions should be planned and optimized.
The objective of the Expert Group is to investigate issues in, and approaches to, the implementation of the new ICRP recommendations and revised BSS requirements for emergency exposure situations, specifically nuclear/radiological emergencies, including accidents and consequence management for malicious acts. It is also planned to cover approaches to the optimisation of protection strategies, the setting of reference levels, and the inclusion of stakeholder input in these processes.
Benefits of this work will include provision to emergency management authorities in NEA member countries of clear, concise information and recommendations on key issues, possible approaches and summary of experience for implementing the new ICRP recommendations and revised BSS for emergency exposure situations. It will also allow WPNEM to continue to proactively address topics of interest to its constituency.
Benefits expected from the work of the expert group were agreed in consensus, in particular that it will be very useful to find a path, and even common understanding of these issues in emergency exposure situations, to discuss and make clear the approach to optimization for these types of situations and to discuss the possible approaches to and roles of stakeholder involvement. In addition, the expert group agreed to conduct a survey to explore the national experiences with the process for optimization of the protection strategies for emergency exposure situations and post emergency consequence management, including the use of reference levels.
International Commission on Radiological Protection, ICRP (external link)
Last updated: 21 February 2011