Preparedness for Post-Accident Recovery: Lessons from Experience

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Workshop Summary Report Tokyo, Japan
18-19 February 2020

Post-accident recovery management is considered as a complex multidisciplinary process of multi-sectoral dimensions, with a priority expressed by NEA member countries to improve recovery preparedness. This could be achieved by producing guidance on how to develop a nuclear or radiological post-accident recovery management framework that can be adapted to national conditions. Capturing lessons learnt from the Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident is of high added value to achieve this goal, although moving from a specific context to a generic one is difficult. This workshop, co-organised with the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority, provided a timely opportunity to engage in the in-depth brainstorming necessary for such a task.

The workshop enabled the sharing of experiences and lessons learnt related to various aspects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident recovery process, the collecting of insights and understanding of the current state of recovery in Japan (i.e. nine years after the accident) and of the extraordinary effort deployed by a wide spectrum of actors (e.g. local and national authorities, experts, research organisations, universities, public or private laboratories or institutes, non-governmental organisations, local stakeholders, nuclear operators, etc.).  Strategies to help avoid hindrances and may accelerate recovery were discussed and gave food for thought to improve preparedness for post-accident recovery.

The workshop findings highlight the importance of thinking in advance and broadly (i.e. in a holistic and multi-sectoral manner, balancing health, social, cultural, economic, environmental impacts) in order to ensure that the emergency response strategy could tackle the immediate situation and would not delay or impede the recovery process. As an overall conclusion, preparedness for post-accident recovery would benefit from adopting a comprehensive and operational generic framework covering key aspects such as public health, radiological monitoring and dose assessment, risk communication, decommissioning and environmental decontamination (both strongly associated with waste management), food and drinking water management, business continuity, the well-being of affected people and communities. A preparedness strategy should include actions targeting the resilience of societies and engaging local communities. The co-expertise process as defined by the ICRP could largely help in meeting this goal. Finally, the idea of exercising post-accident recovery management to practice and evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of stakeholder involvement, and/or of any other issues at stake for recovery, was introduced.

All these findings are reflected in the generic framework for preparedness for post-accident recovery that has been developed by the Committee on Radiological protection and Public Health’s Expert Group on Recovery Management. This framework will be released by the NEA at the end of 2021.