Invitation letter

General information


Working Party on Nuclear Emergency Matters:
Exercise on Notification, Communication and Interfaces Related to Catastrophic Events Involving Radiation or Radiological Materials 2015-2016

General information

This page provides an overview of the INEX-5 exercise on notification, communication and interfaces related to catastrophic events involving radiation or radiological materials, organized under the auspices of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency. It provides basic information on the exercise and is intended to facilitate decisions on national participation in the INEX-5 exercise series by those organizations responsible for national exercise programmes.

1. Introduction

1.1 Background to INEX-5

Emergency situations demand that response organisations take action in a timely and effective manner to mitigate potential impacts on populations, infrastructure and environment, and support the return of affected areas to normal social and economic activity. To deliver an effective response over the emergency management timeline, it is necessary to make, maintain and exercise adequate plans and arrangements in advance of an emergency situation.

Since 1993, the OECD NEA International Nuclear Emergency Exercise (INEX) series, organised by the NEA's Working Party on Nuclear Emergency Matters (WPNEM), has addressed a wide range of objectives, scenarios, timescales and participants in order to facilitate improvements in emergency management systems nationally and internationally. The previous series, the INEX-3 consequence management exercises conducted in 2005-2006 investigated arrangements for responding to widespread radiological contamination of the environment arising from an emergency situation (NEA 2007). Recognising the value of INEX-3 in terms of the lessons and issues identified, the WPNEM developed its next exercise series, INEX-4, to continue the exploration of the post-crisis response to an emergency situation, while addressing areas of current interest in emergency management, in particular, the urban environment and the transition to recovery. In preparation for INEX-5, WPNEM reviewed outcomes from the INEX-4 exercise as well as emergency response to the accident that occurred in March 2011 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. WPNEM determined that INEX-5 should focus on the notification, communications and interfaces for response to a catastrophic event involving radiation and a natural disaster. The goal is to strengthen communication and notification interfaces within and between countries through identification and implementation of corrective actions.

1.2 INEX-5 exercise concept

The basic concept for INEX-5 is to focus on the notification and communication aspects (including the decision making activities associated with making notifications and providing communications) for events that may affect not only the local and national citizens, but also the international community. In addition, the access to international response support that can be obtained quickly through pre-established protocols and agreements should be reviewed and considered as a part of the INEX-5 tabletop exercise. Whether used as a tabletop, expanded to a full field exercise or a combination of both, the key expectations are to strengthen notification and communications processes at the local, state/national and international levels.

INEX-5 will include a focus on notifications and communications during extreme events and identifying circumstances that may require enhancement or development of protocols and agreements necessary to minimize national and international concerns and impacts. The exercise outcomes are intended to assist with implementation and maintenance of effective, compatible, and coordinated national and international arrangements.

As with previous INEX exercises, INEX-5 may include two stages, a full field exercise and a tabletop exercise. Using the generic technical materials developed by the INEX-5 Planning Group, each participating country will organise and conduct a tabletop exercise. Countries may also expand the tabletop materials into a full field, national issues-driven exercise either before or after the tabletop exercise. These will be based on a potential radiological event that escalates to an actual radiological event that is further impacted by natural disaster requiring/involving international interfaces. Countries may choose when to conduct their exercise within a common agreed window of several months. Following their exercise, each country will complete a common evaluation questionnaire for submission to the INEX-5 evaluation group. Countries conducting an INEX-5 exercise will be able to test or investigate their own arrangements, thereby providing a basis for broader experience exchange at the international level and extraction of common lessons or issues.

Using the feedback from the national evaluation questionnaires, the NEA will organise an international evaluation workshop to allow participants to exchange and analyse experience from the national exercises and identify issues or gaps impacting multiple states. An important outcome will be the identification of good practices as well as key needs for future work that would benefit from international co-operation.

1.3 INEX-5 scope and limitations

INEX-5 will be comprised of a series of individual national exercises conducted by participating countries. A single common set of questions for the tabletop exercise has been developed to allow all participants to directly compare their approaches for managing the response to such events. To facilitate overall evaluation and experience exchange, all participating countries are strongly encouraged to adopt the common objectives and scenario questions. Additionally, while countries may conduct a regional INEX-5 exercise, it is recommended that all participants first conduct localized tabletop exercises to support the common exercise evaluation.

As a notification, communication and interfaces related to a catastrophic events exercise, the INEX-5 design specifically excludes the intermediate and late phases, except for appropriate notification and communication activities within the scenario questions, although issues arising during this phase may need to be addressed. To assist exercise organisers in their INEX-5 planning, a set of technical materials have been prepared. Materials to support intermediate and late phase play have not been developed.

Each country will perform its own assessment of their exercise with the intent to share, as appropriate, its experience internationally. To facilitate overall evaluation and experience exchange, a standard national evaluation questionnaire has been prepared for completion and submission to the NEA as part of the overall exercise evaluation. Each participating country may also undertake any other internal evaluation that it feels appropriate, without requirement to share this information. The exercise will not be used by the NEA to evaluate the performance of any participating country.

The INEX-5 exercise is neither a real-time exercise nor a free play exercise; it is neither intended nor designed to test any international conventions for notification or assistance and should not be used as such. It is, however, designed to identify areas where countries may be able to clarify and improve existing protocols, agreements, and procedures or to develop other documents necessary to ensure the best possible outcomes from catastrophic events involving radiation or radioactive materials.

1.4 Who should participate in INEX-5

INEX-5 is open to all countries, including NEA member and non-member countries, and relevant international organisations. As an international exercise, the key constituencies for participation include emergency planners, responders and technical decision-makers from national authorities. The participation of relevant stakeholders (governmental and non-governmental) in the national exercises, consistent with the exercise objectives, is both encouraged and supported by the INEX-5 scenario. The extent of participation within a country will be the choice and responsibility of each country. Countries are encouraged to involve neighbouring and other countries and international agencies that could be involved or provide resources in case of a catastrophic event involving radiation or radiological materials. The NEA will inform other relevant international organisations of the scope of the INEX-5 exercises through the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies (IACRNE).

1.5 What assistance can national exercise organisers expect?

Each country participating within the INEX-5 framework will be responsible for the detailed planning, conduct and evaluation of its own exercise. A set of generic technical materials has been prepared to support INEX-5 national exercise planning committees, including generic guidance, key objectives and topic areas, exercise scenario and master scenario events list, and exercise evaluation tools. Each participating country should base their national exercise on these materials, which national planning committees will be able to easily adapt as necessary. However, it is recognised that the national requirements for a notification, communication and interfaces related to catastrophic events exercise may differ between countries not least regarding the use of a common scenario. Guidance on use of the generic exercise scenario and master scenario events list has been provided in the guide for exercise organisers.

2. Overview of the INEX-5 exercise

2.1 INEX5 objectives

The main goals of INEX-5 are to allow participating countries to i) test or identify elements for improving their arrangements for notification, communication and interfaces related to catastrophic events involving radiation or radiological materials, and ii) exchange experience with other countries that have conducted and evaluated an INEX-5 exercise. To meet these goals, the following common key objectives have been set:

Based on the key objectives, the following specific topical areas, which form the basis of the generic exercise play, have been established:

The topical areas will be evaluated from both a national and international perspective and form the core of the common INEX-5 Evaluation Questionnaire.

2.2 INEX-5 exercise scenario, format and evaluation

INEX-5 has been developed based on an escalating scenario involving radiation or radiological material that culminates with a natural event creating a catastrophic event with international implications. The start of INEX-5 exercise play will begin as a potential radiological event and include the notification and communication processes discussed. It will then escalate to an actual radiological event and include the notification and communication processes associated with that level of event. It will conclude with a catastrophic event that involves international notification, communication and interactions associated with needs beyond those available within the country. INEX-5 has been designed as a "question-driven" tabletop exercise to be conducted individually by each participating country. Players will be challenged to use existing protocols, policies and procedures to explain what notification and communication actions will be provided at each level of the emergency. In addition, players will be expected to discuss their notification and communication expectations during the different event conditions. Discussion among and between players should be open and non-critical. The goal is to establish a tabletop exercise environment where issues regarding notification and communication activities can be identified and discussed freely/openly.

As with the other INEX series, the evaluation of INEX-5 will be based on both national level experiences and evaluations using a standardised questionnaire, and an international evaluation workshop held after completion of all national exercises. Each country will perform its own assessment of its exercise with the intent to share, as appropriate, its experience internationally. To facilitate overall evaluation and experience exchange, a standard INEX-5 evaluation questionnaire has been prepared for completion and submission to the NEA as part of the exercise evaluation. The questionnaires and overall evaluation will focus on identifying good practices, common issues and areas for further investigation. Each participating country may also undertake any other internal evaluation that it feels appropriate, without requirement to share this information. The exercise will not be used by the NEA to evaluate the performance of any country.

The national evaluation process should lead to the identification of good practices and issues in notification, communication and interfaces. The international evaluation workshop will assist with identifying recommendations, key needs and common gaps for future work. The outcomes of the exercise and workshop will be published as proceedings or as a strategy-level summary.

3 Exercise preparation

3.1 Proposed timeline for planning and conduct

To facilitate INEX-5 planning, conduct and evaluation, and organisation of the post-exercise evaluation workshop, it is proposed that all individual exercises be held within a period of 8-14 months following the distribution of the INEX-5 Technical Materials. Within this window, individual exercises may be organised at a time that is most convenient to each country. The evaluation questionnaires, which will serve as the basis for the INEX-5 evaluation workshop, should be completed and submitted within 6 weeks following the completion of each national exercise, or the end of October 2016 at the latest.

A general timetable for INEX-5 planning and conduct is provided below. It is recognised that countries may be required to account for other national exercise programmes in their specific timetables.

Table 1: Proposed Timeline



14-15 October 2014

Approval of the INEX-5 technical materials

November 2014

Official invitation and distribution of the INEX-5 general information

31 March 2015

Deadline to notify the NEA of intention to participate

16-17 June 2015

INEX-5 Participating Countries meeting (NEA, Paris)

September 2015-June 2016

Official time window for INEX-5 conduct

End of October 2016

Completed INEX-5 Evaluation Questionnaire sent to NEA

Spring 2017

INEX-5 evaluation workshop

End of 2017

Publication of INEX-5 evaluation/summary report

3.2 INEX-5 technical materials and national level planning

The NEA will provide to identified National Exercise Organisers the set of generic INEX-5 Technical Materials prepared by the INEX-5 Preparation Group (see References). These materials provide a common basis for the national INEX-5 exercises as well as the necessary information to enable exercise organisers to develop their specific exercise arrangements. Each participating country will be responsible for the detailed planning to support the organisation and conduct of its national INEX-5 exercise, including as appropriate, the development of specific exercise plans, determination of scope of participation and invitation to players, pre-exercising training, exercise conduct and evaluation.

4. Participation in INEX-5

INEX-5 is open to all countries (both the NEA member and non-member countries) as well as interested international organisations. In order to receive the INEX-5 Technical Materials and facilitate overall planning, countries and international organisations intending to conduct an INEX-5 exercise should notify the NEA Secretariat, below, of their intention to participate and provide appropriate contact information for their National Exercise Organiser.

Olvido Guzmán
Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA)
Le Seine St. Germain
12, boulevard des Iles
92130 Issy-les-Moulineaux, France
Tel.: +33 (0)1 45 24 10 42
Fax: +33 (0)1 44 30 61 11

Last reviewed: 12 November 2015