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Simulation of Emergency Procedures inside a Nuclear Power Plant Control Room used to train Off-Site Responders

Emergency situations at nuclear power plants require coordinated actions at all levels of response to keep the public safe.  Onsite control room supervisors manage highly trained operators and support staff in their response to an emergency while off-site responders work to protect the public and the environment from any consequences. All parties must understand the information needs of their counterparts and the realities of each unique operating environment during an emergency in order to respond effectively.

This harmonization was the goal of a workshop coordinated by the IAEA’s Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC), held at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), Oshawa, Canada, from 30 November to 4 December 2015.  Participants represented traditionally off-site emergency responder organizations at local, provincial, national levels in Canada and also at the international level. During the workshop, participants learned about operations in a nuclear power plant control room during normal and emergency situations.  This was supplemented with practical exercises operating a nuclear reactor control room simulator available at UOIT.

Luc Sigouin, Director of Emergency Management Programs Division at the the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission stated that “This workshop has been a valuable chance to consider how we interact during an emergency.  Having a real appreciation of the detailed response activities that take place in the control room is very useful.”

At the end of the workshop, participants visited a CANDU nuclear power reactor full-scope simulator and observed several exercises with qualified instructors.  Such advanced systems are used to train nuclear power plant operators. The aim of these exercises was to give off-site responders an appreciation of the detailed activities of those in the control room during emergency situations.

John Byard, Emergency Management Coordinator at Regional Municipality of Durham, Canada, completed the workshop and stated that “Events like this are excellent opportunities to learn more about the unique operating environment at a nuclear power plant.  This is very helpful for us so we are better able to support the activities of our partners during an emergency.”

This workshop is an example of how the IAEA continues to actively support Member States by providing new and innovative opportunities to share knowledge and be able to better respond during a nuclear emergency. The workshop was the first of its kind coordinated by the IEC focusing on control room operations with the involvement of responders from all levels off-site.

| Last update: Wednesday, 13 January, 2016.