The NEA has a long tradition of expertise in the area of nuclear emergency policy, planning, preparedness and management. Through its activities in this field, the Agency offers its member countries unbiased assistance on nuclear preparedness matters, with a view to facilitating improvements in nuclear emergency preparedness strategies and response at the international level. The 1986 Chernobyl accident demonstrated that nuclear accidents can have international consequences, highlighting the need for international co‑operation, and leading to improvements in the areas of international communication, information exchange and harmonisation of response actions between countries.
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 response. 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 effectiveness of existing nuclear emergency response plans and procedures needs to be regularly tested and proven. In most countries, nuclear emergency exercises, drills, and tests are regularly performed at the local, regional, and national levels. To explore the international aspects of nuclear accidents, the NEA initiated and established an international nuclear emergency "exercise culture", starting with the 1993 INEX-1 table-top exercise, the first such exercise to be carried out at the international level. Between 1993 and 2017 the NEA organized 9 international exercises, each having the participation of national emergency management structures from 20 to 50 NEA member and non-member countries, and up to 6 other international organizations. The table and picture below give a brief overview of these exercises, and exercise details can be found by following the links on the left-hand-side.
|Programme||Exercise year||Number of
|Exercise type||Scenario type|
|INEX-1||1993||16||0||Table top||Fictitious NPP|
|INEX-2 Switzerland||1996||30||4||Command centre||National NPP exercise|
|INEX-2 Finland||1997||27||6||Command centre||National NPP exercise|
|INEX-2 Hungary||1998||33||4||Command centre||National NPP exercise|
|INEX-2 Canada||1999||31||5||Command centre||National NPP exercise|
|INEX 2000||2001||55||5||Command centre||National NPP exercise|
|INEX-3||2005||15||2||Table top||Large-scale contamination|
|INEX-4||2010||17||1||Table top||Improvised nuclear device/radiological dispersal device|
|INEX-5||2016||22||1||National and regional table top||Multi-unit|
|Objectives||Early phase/communication/decision making process in national responses/food safety/emergency assistance||Decision making in uncertain conditions/real time communication/public and media interactions||Monitoring and data management strategies for nuclear emergencies/international coordination/aspects of the Convention on Third Party Liability||Consequence management/long-term issues/decision making in the medium- and longer-term||Post-crisis emergency management/response to widespread radiological contamination of the urban environment||Notification and communication aspects/transboundary aspects/interfaces/identifying and obtaining resources|
|Key outcomes||Strengthen the coordination of communications and short-term countermeasures/good pracices in decision making process identified/ need for a more realistic exercise||Strengthen the coordination of communications and short-term countermeasures/good pracices in decision making process identified/need for a more realistic exercise||Need for information exchange using new technologies/information retrieval using Internet technology as a part of emergency management procedures/decision on national level whether internet technology should be used for information dissemination/implementation of new procedures for posting information on a web site/one official platform for the exchange of emergency information||Importance of stakeholder involvement in later phases of consequence management/decision making and approaches to stakeholder communication interaction and interdependency/deeper insight on liability/compensation issues||Radiological dispersal device scenario similarities to large-scale nuclear emergencies/improvement and development of contingency plans, mass casualty/decision making in the face of professional differing opinion/optimisation strategies/transition to recovery processes||Evaluation ongoing|
The INEX-1 table top exercise brought together national nuclear emergency response organisations to address a simulated accident at a hypothetical reactor near the border of two fictitious countries. The results of this exercise highlighted the need for more detailed study of international issues, leading to the development of the INEX-2 series.
Conducted between 1996 and 1999 and involving the simultaneous play of over 30 countries and 4 international organisations, the four INEX-2 exercises were built upon pre-planned national-level exercises at existing power plants in Switzerland, Finland, Hungary and Canada. The INEX-2 exercises used real national and international emergency response centres, their hardware, procedures and personnel to address in real-time, a simulated accident at a real reactor. In addition to testing existing emergency management arrangements, procedures and communications in real-time, these exercises were intended to investigate processes for decision making based on limited information, as well as the management of public and media information.
A fifth exercise, INEX 2000, was carried out in 2001, and involved 57 countries and 5 international organisations. Over a decade of nuclear emergency management at the NEA. Similar in scope to INEX-2, this exercise was organised under the auspices of the Inter-Agency Committee on Response to Nuclear Accidents. It was designed to test the implementation of concepts and lessons learnt from the INEX-2 series, including the testing of new web-based data management and monitoring strategies, and the co-ordination of media information. This exercise also addressed for the first time, through an international workshop, questions of civil liability following a nuclear emergency.
Starting with INEX-3 (2005-2006), the international community began looking at the issue in longer-term consequence management. This third series of INEX exercises focused on consequence management issues that would likely arise as a result of a nuclear or radiological emergency that has led to significant contamination of the populated environment. INEX-3 was designed to deliver tangible benefits to participant countries in the form of greater understanding of the challenges to be faced after the emergency phase of an incident has passed, the ability to compare national practices with other countries, and the opportunity to identify areas for improvement in consequence management that could be usefully addressed by the international community. In order to build on the momentum of INEX-3 and the work of various INEX-3 follow-up activities, the WPNEM launched in 2008 the development cycle for a new INEX-4 international emergency exercise. INEX-4 focused on issues in consequence management and transition to recovery in response to malicious acts involving the release of radioactive materials in an urban setting. Recognising that the arrangements for managing these events may vary between countries, the goal of INEX-4 was to provide a basis for enhancing emergency management through the exchange of exercise experiences from participating countries and identification of good practices and common issues.
Since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, it has been recognised that notification, communication, and identifying and obtaining resources during catastrophic events can be difficult. The need for established protocols, policies, and procedures amongst and between country entities is critical for minimising negative impacts. Therefore, it was viewed as beneficial to design an exercise that provided a basis for enhancing national and international emergency management arrangements related to those issues, through the exchange of exercise outcomes and experiences from participating countries in order to identify good practices and common issues to be addressed. Those issues were addressed during the INEX-5 series.
For 24 years, various aspects of nuclear emergency preparedness were studied. Each edition was oriented to test pre-established objectives concerning the selected phase and/or selected aspects of nuclear emergency preparedness and response (EPR). The overall goal of the entire series is to provide a tool enabling participants to perform a comprehensive study of all phases of the EPR and establish a forum for knowledge and experience sharing. The figure below presents the subsequent phases of EPR.
The exercises provide an excellent basis for the review of both national and international arrangements. The objectives of each series are agreed upon by the participants in advance and are constructed to meet their particular needs. Following each exercise, each country completes a standard questionnaire to record observations, lessons and issues for submission to the NEA. This feedback forms the basis of the follow-up INEX International Evaluation Workshops or topical Sessions organised by NEA. The workshops allow participants to exchange and analyse experience from the national exercises and identify cross-cutting issues or gaps impacting multiple states. An important outcome is the identification of good practices, as well as key needs for future work that would benefit from international co-operation.
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.
In order to test the evolved communication and information technologies, the NEA organised the INEX 2000 exercise hosted in France at the Gravelines nuclear power plant, 22-23 May 2001. This international nuclear emergency exercise was similar to the four INEX-2 exercises as a command-post real-time notification and communication exercise, dealing with the first hours of a nuclear emergency. In addition to the new communication aspects, the exercise included for the first time an additional objective testing compensation and third party liability issues after a nuclear accident. These aspects were developed in detail in a separate workshop on Indemnification of Damage in the Event of a Nuclear Accident, on 26-28 November 2001. INEX 2000 is therefore seen as a bridging exercise between the INEX-2 series and the next generation of international nuclear emergency exercises at the Nuclear Energy Agency, focusing on decision making mechanisms in later phases of a nuclear emergency.
The first INEX exercise was held in 1993 to address the international community need to improve the quality and the co-ordination of emergency response systems on a regional scale, in particular in the case where countries have borders in common, and to help in seeking consensus on approaches to the management of nuclear emergencies between countries which are not necessary linked to each other with a common border or by being situated in the same region. Since the nuclear accidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, many countries had intensified their efforts in emergency planning and preparedness for nuclear accidents in the beginning of 1990s.
The INEX-2 exercise was planned as a series of regional, command-post exercises with the simultaneous real-time participation of many countries – including those from Eastern Europe and Asia – and international organisations. Between 1996 and 1999, four regional exercises all having the same objectives, were carried out based on realistic scenarios at nuclear power plants in Switzerland (November 1996), Finland (April 1997), Hungary (November 1998) and Canada (April 1999).
Despite the significant advances made in early phase emergency management as a result of INEX series, longer-term consequence management has remained a difficult challenge for emergency managers. In order to address the desire of NEA member countries to better prepare for the later phase response to a nuclear or radiological emergency, the NEA began development of the INEX-3 consequence management exercises. In order to assist in the development and organisation of the INEX-3 exercise series based on this general guidance, the WPNEM created in 2003 the INEX-3 Preparation Group.
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 INEX-5 exercises series were developed in 2013-2014 and were conducted between September 2015 and June 2016. The preliminary analysis of the INEX-5 evaluation questionnaires, as well as details of national exercise conduction, were presented to the WPNEM and the INEX-5 national co-ordinators during a topical session on 24-25 January 2017. The NEA's post-INEX-5 international evaluation workshop will be held in October 2017 at the NEA in Boulogne-Billancourt, France.
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.