OREANDA-NEWS. September 27, 2016. Enhanced communication systems are a cornerstone of the international cooperation that is essential for an effective response in the case of nuclear or radiological emergencies. This was highlighted at the IAEA General Conference side event on International and Regional Efforts to Enhance Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) organized in collaboration with the European Commission (EC) today.

We have seen that effective cooperation and communication between stakeholders during times of crisis are of the utmost importance, said Gerassimos Thomas, Deputy Director General of the ECs Directorate-General for Energy, and a speaker at the event. He emphasised the importance of improving coordination and alignment of emergency planning and response arrangements between European Union (EU) countries especially in cases where an accident may affect a neighbouring country and the active role civil society should play in this regard. He also noted that as of 2018 the new European Basic Safety Standards are entering into force, making national EPR plans in the EU obligatory and public.

Standardizing information exchanged during nuclear or radiological emergencies is an important step towards reinforcing global EPR, presenters highlighted. The wider use of state-of-the-art technology for information exchange and for sharing of monitoring data were identified as vital steps towards reaching that objective.

Complementary advancements of systems used by the IAEA and the EC to assist Member States in information exchange during emergencies were presented during the event. Experts from the IAEA showcased the Unified System for Information Exchange in Incidents and Emergencies (USIE), a secure web-based platform for communicating information related to nuclear or radiological emergencies, and the recently-launched International Radiation Monitoring Information System (IRMIS), which collects and displays radiation monitoring data. IRMIS provides a tool to assist IAEA Member States in determining where elevated gamma dose rate measurements during a radiological or nuclear emergency indicate that actions to protect the public are necessary.

The ECs European Radiological Data Exchange Platform (EURDEP) feeds data from about 5500 monitoring stations directly into IRMIS. The platform was demonstrated alongside the European Community Urgent Radiological Information Exchange (Web-ECURIE) system, which is the equivalent of the IAEAs USIE for Member States of the European Union.

Cooperation between the IAEA and the European Commission

The cooperation between the IAEA and the EC demonstrates how a regional arrangement can complement and contribute to the overall effectiveness of global arrangements.

It has yielded great benefits in the advancement of arrangements for information exchange in nuclear and radiological incidents and emergencies, said Juan Carlos Lentijo, Deputy Director General and Head of the IAEA Department of Nuclear Safety and Security. The IAEAs 60th anniversary affords us the opportunity to underline that a major factor contributing to the success of the IAEAs work has been the cooperation we have with all our partner international organisations.

The EC is our steady partner in many of the developments we have pursued in the last decades, not only in EPR, but also in nuclear safety and nuclear security as a whole, he added.

The EC stands ready to enhance its cooperation with the IAEA, Thomas underlined. Looking to the future, at the European Commission we encourage and will continue to encourage and support initiatives which seek to improve the principles of effective and harmonised emergency preparedness and response, and we are ready and willing to continue and enhance our existing collaboration with the IAEA's Incident and Emergency Centre, in order to achieve our common goals, Thomas said.