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The Need for Radiological Emergency Preparedness and Response

The Need for Radiological Emergency Preparedness and Response

 Ethiopia have been using radioactive materials and Sources for some decades; Despite all the precautions that are taken in the design and operation of radiological facilities and the conduct of activities, there remains always a possibility that may lead to an emergency due to a failure or a misuse during the peaceful application of radioactive materials and sources in the fields of medical, industry, teaching and research facilities.  In some cases, an emergency may lead to the release of radioactive materials and/or sources within facilities and/or into the public domain, which may necessitate complex emergency response actions. That is why adequate preparations have to be established and maintained at the organizational, national and, where agreed between countries, international levels to respond to Radiological emergencies.

The emergency response goals derive from the Authority’s Proclamation No. 1025/2017 and the International Atomic energy Agency (IAEA ) fundamental safety  objective “to protect people and the environment from harmful effects of ionizing radiation”.

 

In the event of an emergency exposure situation, the primary concern is the prevention or reduction of radiation doses to people and emergency workers. Therefore, some key goals of the emergency Response are to:  

  • Provide first aid and medical treatment of radiation injuries,
  • Regain control of the situation and mitigate consequences,
  • Save lives,
  • Avoid or minimize severe deterministic effects,
  • Reduce the risk of stochastic effects,

However, the potential consequences are wider than the risk of radiation health effects. As demonstrated by the accidents at the Chernobyl NPP in 1986 and Fukushima Daiichi TEPCO NPP in 2011, the social and economic consequences may be serious and extend over a prolonged period of time. The goals for response must therefore encompass these wider potential impacts. Specific response goals focus on:

  • Keeping the public informed;
  • Mitigating the non-radiological consequences;
  • Protecting to the extent practicable the property and the environment; and
  •  Resuming normal social and economic activities within the affected areas.

Some emergency response goals are under direct responsibility of the licensee of the facility or activity, as for example regaining control of the situation and taking mitigatory actions. Some other response goals are under the responsibility of both licensee's and off-site response organizations (Responders), as for example taking protective actions to avoid or minimize severe deterministic effects and to reduce the risk of stochastic effects. Co-operation is needed at both the preparedness stage and during the response to a radiological emergency between the on-site and off-site response organizations. The response goals are reflected in the response functions and relevant requirements for emergency preparedness and response.

 

The goals of emergency response are most likely to be achieved by having a sound programme for emergency preparedness in place as part of the infrastructure for protection and safety. The practical goal of emergency preparedness is to ensure that an adequate capability is in place at the operating organization, regional and national levels and, as appropriate, at the international level, for an effective response in a radiological emergency. This relates to an integrated set of infrastructural elements that include, but are not limited to:

  • Authority and responsibilities;
  • Organization and staffing;
  • Coordination;
  • Plans and procedures;
  •  Tools, equipment and facilities;
  • Training, drills and exercises; and a management system.

Emergency preparedness also helps to build confidence that when needed, an emergency response would be managed, controlled and coordinated effectively. In this context the Ethiopian radiation protection authority, ERPA developed and under implementation the Ethiopian Radiation and Nuclear protection Authority, Proclamation No. 1025/2017 and other support working systems.

Duties and responsibilities of the Authority in Radiological Emergencies:

  • In collaboration with other concerned bodies, formulate emergency plans and set up emergency squads for accidents involving radiation and take measures or advise on measure to be taken as needed.
  •  Formulate radiation protection policies and draft laws.
  •  Ensure that operations related to Radioactive sources and radioactive materials are carried out without risk to public health and safety and that devices, plants, installations are designed, constructed, calibrated and operated in accordance with prescribed standards;
  • Harmonize the interests of Governmental agencies concerned with the utilization of radiation and radiation sources;
  •  License users and supervise and monitor the use of Radioactive Sources and radioactive materials;
  • Keep Inventory of Licensee's, Radioactive Sources and radioactive materials of ionizing radiation imported into Ethiopia;

Major activities accomplished so far by ERPA:

  • The new Proclamation's (Proclamation No. 1025/2017) Was approved and under implementation.
  • New regulation was developed
  • Different Guide lines, Instructions, Operational Procedures, Directive's, Radiological Emergency preparedness & Response plan and Standards are developed.
  • Create awareness of stakeholders regarding the safety and security of radioactive sources and develop confidence on the Authority.

Coordination of Radiological Emergency Preparedness & Response and The Way forward

Depending on the complexity of Radiological emergency’s consequences, the number of response organizations and the information required in terms of variety and amount to be exchanged between the response organizations may increase significantly. Therefore, coordination mechanisms are needed for both preparedness and response to a radiological emergency, for data and information exchange, prognosis and assessment, decision making, command and control, public communication, etc.

A comprehensive unified and systematic national approach to Emergency management was developed under the so-called National Radiological Emergency preparedness and Response Plan, which should be applicable for the full spectrum of potential Radiological emergencies, regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity. The National Radiological Emergency preparedness and Response Plan should use an Incident Command System for command, control, and coordination of emergency response, but should not be limited to this.

The main coordination mechanism for preparedness should be the National Radiological Emergency preparedness and Response Plan, as per IAEA requirements on EPR. The role and responsibilities of the National Radiological Emergency preparedness and Response Plan are addressed in detail within the plan. Other coordination tools for preparedness may be: joint, multi-disciplinary coordination committees; joint training and exercises; joint conferences; joint projects; joint arrangements at regional (between States within a region) and national levels. Joining regional Radiological and nuclear safety networks enable Countries to exchange experience and good practices on EPR within the region and to plan and implement capacity building activities such as workshops & training courses on EPR topics.

Coordination of planning and preparedness activities always strengthen the coordination of actions during the response phase of a nuclear or radiological emergency.

By: Endalew A.

Radioactive Waste Management Team Leader

Ethiopia Radiation Protection Authority, ERPA


Latest News Latest News

Ethiopian Radiation Protection Authority and   Sudanese Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory  Authority has signed MOU to explore collaboration in a wide range of programs, projects and activities that are determined to be feasible and consistent with the guiding principles and organizational needs of the Parties.  In particular, the Parties mutually intend to cooperate in regulatory activities pertaining to the following areas: 
(i) Nuclear and radiological safety ; 
(ii) Transport safety
(iii) Radiation protection
(iv) Environmental impact of nuclear & radiological facilities and activities
(v Radioactive waste management and spent fuel management; 
(vi) Nuclear security
(vii) Emergency preparedness and response; 
(viii) Mining activities of radioactive materials 
(ix) Safeguards

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Workshop on Radiation Safety and Security conducted Workshop on Radiation Safety and Security conducted

A workshop organized by the National Nuclear Security Administration of U.S in cooperation with the Ethiopian Radiation Protection Authority was conducted at Hilton Hotel, Addis Ababa, from August 3 to 4, 2015. The workshop focused on the development of regulations that is a vital tool for the security of radioactive sources and nuclear facilities. Specific topics such as IAEA Code of conduct which basically provides guidance for developing policies laws and regulations to uphold the safety and security of radioactive sources, categorization of radioactive sources that helps maintain a high level of safety and security, IAEA Nuclear Security Series that serves as a guidance for establishing regulating requirements, regulatory development process that introduces a systematic process which helps make development of new security regulations more effective and efficient and principles that highlight effective regulation drafting were critically addressed in the workshop.

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