Diligent planning must always include preparedness for the possible occurrence of radiation-related emergencies. This consideration necessitates the implementation of an efficient nuclear and radiological emergency preparedness and response (EPR) system based on effective emergency preparedness, robust arrangements and trained responders.
While the responsibility for developing, maintaining and strengthening nuclear and radiological EPR arrangements rests with the national authorities in Member States, the IAEA, plays the central role in fostering the international EPR framework for nuclear and radiological emergencies. The IAEA develops guidance on EPR that provides Member States with a reference for developing robust EPR arrangements and for sustaining them. This guidance covers all areas of nuclear and radiological EPR. This includes support in understanding and implementing the latest concepts and principles, as outlined in the IAEA Safety Standards; assistance in the design, conduct and evaluation of emergency exercises; and technical support to national and regional capacity-building projects.
In 2005, the IAEA announced the establishment of the Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC) to serve as a global focal point for preparedness and response to any nuclear and radiological incident and emergency independent whether it arises from an accident, natural disaster, negligence, nuclear security event or any other cause. The IAEA carries out this work based on the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident (Early Notification Convention) and the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency (Assistance Convention). This work is also carried out for the alignment of its EPR activities and the EPR activities in Member States with the IAEA Safety Standards.
The process of learning from the response to emergencies and from exercises prompts significant efforts by Member States and international organizations to maintain the up-to-date international EPR framework and arrangements. This maintenance ensures a high level of operational effectiveness in response. However, there is always a need to continuously strengthen these arrangements and capabilities through the exchange of information, experience and good practices, as well as through the promotion of effective preparedness as a key to an efficient response. The IAEA works to define and promote common approaches in nuclear and radiological EPR so that the response does not differ between countries as this would cause confusion and public mistrust, interfere with recovery operations and possibly lead to severe socio-economic consequences.