HERCA/ Emergency Preparedness/ The Board of HERCA approves the HERCA Approach for a better cross-border coordination of protective actions during the response in the early phase of a nuclear accident; development and practical testing
On the occasion of its 14th meeting, HERCA has approved the document “HERCA-Approach for a better cross-border coordination of protective actions during the response in the early phase of a nuclear accident; development and practical testing”. The document describes the development and testing of a response mechanism for the early phase of an accident, called the “HERCA-Approach”.
The “HERCA-Approach”, on emergencies relies on the following principles: mutual understanding, coordination and mutual trust. The main strategy is to aim at an alignment of the response between neighbouring countries, or neighbouring territories. The proposed HERCA-Approach comprises mechanisms of early information exchanges allowing neighbouring countries to align measures for protective actions by using as far as possible the existing dedicated bilateral and international arrangements. It is divided into 3 steps, the preparedness phase, the early phase and the later phase.. For each of the steps, the approach defines main principles while leaving necessary margins of freedom for detailed implementation.
Since the creation of the association, emergency preparedness & response has been a top priority for HERCA. Following previous HERCA achievements in this field (cf below), the approval of the principles and guidelines in the HERCA approach represent a major milestone in the objective of improving cross border coordination in case of a nuclear emergency. In particular, the HERCA-Approach has the potential to improve the coherence of the response in case of a nuclear accident with impact on territories of other countries. It can be used as guidance to implement Article 99.1 and 99.2 of the EU-BSS calling for Member States to cooperate with other Member States and with third countries in addressing possible emergencies on their territory which may affect other Member States or third countries, in order to facilitate the organisation of radiological protection in those Member States or third countries. It also fulfils recommendation N°12.7.b of the ENCO study and it addresses issues of some of the other recommendations.
The WGE will continue working on emergency preparedness and response in order to facilitate the success of the HERCA approach. This includes the development of a template for a country factsheet on emergency arrangements and national organizations and of guidance for bilateral or multilateral agreements between authorities to help implementing the HERCA-Approach into national emergency arrangements. The WGE also aims at facilitating a harmonized implementation of the EU-BSS, concerning in particular the reference levels (definitions, strategies, operational criteria) and the emergency workers.
Previous achievements on Emergency Preparedness and Response
“Practical proposals for further harmonisation of the reactions in European countries to any distant nuclear or radiological emergency” It contains recommendations on how to increase the consistency of national decisions in response to a distant nuclear or radiological emergencies, information on the perception in the accident country, good practices on the communication of decisions, identification of key recommendations as well as guidance to enhance preparedness for the return of people from an affected country or region.
“Practical Guidance – Practicability of Early Protective Actions” The practical guidance covers the definition, the aim and the rationale of three early countermeasures: sheltering, evacuation and thyroid blockade. The guidance covers the planning phase, the intervention and lifting of the protective actions. The limitation and possible complication of the actions are discussed as well as risk/benefit consideration and linked actions. The tasks of the authorities are clearly indicated.