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European Approach to Nuclear and Radiological Emergency Management and Rehabilitation strategiesDespite the considerable resources devoted to improving the management of the consequences of nuclear emergencies and the rehabilitation of contaminated territories, the general situation in Europe is still characterised by national solutions in terms of both technical and administrative/political areas. The EURANOS project, integrating 17 national emergency management organisations with 33 research institutes, brings together best practice in Europe with the knowledge and technology to enhance the ability of Europe to respond to any nuclear or radiological emergency.
Pan-European preparation for major emergencies
European countries have varying levels of preparedness to respond to radiation emergencies. Such emergencies may occur within a country or outside it; as a result of an accident or of a deliberate terrorist attack; at a site for which emergency plans already exist; or at an unexpected location. Whatever the cause, an emergency in one country in Europe will affect all the others to some extent. By sharing expertise, data and technology between Member States, Europe is placing itself in a position to respond appropriately and effectively to any radiation emergency.
The scope of the project encompasses collating information on the effectiveness of a wide range of countermeasures, and providing guidance for an appropriate response strategy; further enhancement of advanced decision support systems (RODOS) coupled with exchange of information based on state-of-the-art information technologies; and the development of guidance for sustainable rehabilitation of the living conditions in contaminated areas. A key element of the project concerns the demonstrations activities, whereby newly developed tools, methods and approaches are tested in the actual operational environment, thus providing direct and immediate feedback on the quality and appropriateness of R&D activities. The project encompasses a variety of supporting activities, including emergency exercises, training and education, that foster best practice in emergency response.
Research gaps, testing tools and procedures
The activities of the EURANOS project are grouped into two thematic areas: R&D 'categories' and a set of 'demonstration' activities. The R&D categories include emergency actions and countermeasures, enhancement of decision-support systems for operational application, and rehabilitation strategies and guidance. Each of these R&D categories addresses specific issues of interest identified by the users or by previous research in the area. Each category contains several topical R&D projects. Within the demonstration area, 21 individual activities are planned and structured to test tools and methods as they are ‘released’ by the R&D categories. The project is subdivided into a first and a second phase lasting two and three years, respectively. At the end of phase 1, a strategic review will be undertaken to respond to the needs and reflect the experience of the operational emergency management community. This will allow to refocus the project activities for the remaining three years as required.
Enhancing cross-border emergency management
The overall goal of the project is the enhancement of the technical, methodological and strategic approaches for national and cross-border emergency management and rehabilitation in Europe. This could progressively lead to the establishment of a European policy for emergency management and rehabilitation strategies. The anticipated results from all the R&D and demonstration activities are directly supportive of this goal.
Compendia of countermeasures containing the data, information and guidance for all feasible options will be developed for both, food production systems in agricultural and semi-natural areas, and inhabited and industrial environments. The compendia will be applicable during all phases of, not only a nuclear, but also a radiological accident (e.g. terrorist attack). A generic handbook for use in Europe will be developed to support the decision-makers in their choice of options.
Computerised decision-support systems with integrated data collection/exchange features are the key element of successful decision-making under severe circumstances. Within the EURANOS project, the RODOS (Real-time Online DecisiOn Support) system, developed through cooperative European Framework Programme mechanisms over the last decade, will be streamlined to allow for a broader utilisation, and further enhanced to encompass new features, like hydrological models, or to respond to new threats, such as radiological terrorism (‘dirty bomb’).
Generic support and guidance will be prepared which could be used by decision-makers in all aspects of rehabilitation of areas affected by radiological events. This will encompass the technical aspects, but will focus more on the societal impact, which was often neglected.
The demonstration activities are expected to corroborate both the usability and usefulness of specific methods and tools developed within the project in an actual operational environment. Coordinated demonstrations are to be undertaken by up to 17 emergency management centres from EU countries.
Better, more uniform protection for all citizens
The collaborative process involving 50 organisations will lead to increasing coherence on emergency preparedness and rehabilitation strategies. This, in turn, will allow for a closer cooperation among the entities with responsibility for emergency management (and their supports) to lead the establishment of the basis for a European core policy for emergency management and rehabilitation strategies. In that way, the project addresses a major societal need assuring both, a better protection of the public in the case of a radiological emergency, and a more uniform protection for all citizens in Europe.