Incident and Emergency Centre
The Incident and Emergency Centre of the International Atomic Emergency Agency is the global focal point for preparedness and response to nuclear and radiological incidents and emergencies irrespective of their cause. The Centre continuously works to develop standards and guidance for strengthening Member States’ preparedness; develops practical tools and training programs to assist Member States in promptly applying the standards and guidance; and organizes a variety of training events and exercises. The Centre evaluates national plans and assists in their development; facilitates effective communication between countries; develops response procedures; and supports national exercises. The Centre provides access to multiple information resources; assesses trends that may influence crisis and consequence management plans and response; and develops and continuously enhances methodology for identifying conditions needed for early warning and response. The Centre provides around-the-clock assistance to Member States in dealing with nuclear and radiological events, including security related events through timely and efficient services and the provision of a coordinated international response to such emergencies.
Emergency response capabilities have existed within the IAEA since the 1980's and were gradually enhanced after the accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986.
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 nuclear and radiological incidents and emergencies irrespective of their cause. The decision to create an integrated Centre within the IAEA became more pressing with the anticipated increase in the use of nuclear applications as well as heightened concern over the malicious use of nuclear or radioactive materials. The IEC main functions are developing and refining standards, guidelines and practical tools, rendering services, building human capacities, ensuring worldwide event reporting, exchange of information and knowledge sharing, and responding to nuclear and radiological events and threats. At the core of the Centre’s work is a global coordination function. Under the Emergency Conventions, the IEC coordinates actions of international experts and efforts within the IAEA. It also coordinates the response with other international organizations, such as the FAO, WHO, or WMO and, when necessary, helps to coordinate responses of Member States. Today, the IEC provides around-the-clock assistance to Member States in dealing with nuclear and radiological events, including security related threats through timely and efficient services and the provision of a coordinated international response to such emergencies.
The IEC Head reports directly to the Deputy Director of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security. The work of the IEC covers the following areas:
A central focus of the Centre is helping Member States to enhance their own preparedness. The Centre continuously works to develop, refine and implement standards, guidance for strengthening States’ preparedness, as well as practical tools and training programs to assist Member States in promptly applying the standards. Standards and guidance in the area of emergency preparedness and response are developed utilizing the lessons learned from response to past radiation emergencies and from exercises. Through regional and national training events using standardized training materials, the IEC effectively makes information available to Member States and assists them in applying guidance.
The Centre also conducts appraisal missions (Emergency Preparedness Review missions) to Member States to help develop national capabilities for emergency response consistent with international requirements.
Being well prepared is the basis for effective and efficient responses to emergencies. To achieve this, the IEC maintains the Joint Radiation Emergency Management Plan of the International Organizations (JPLAN), which describes the objectives of response; the organizations involved in response, their roles and responsibilities, the interfaces among them and between them and States; operational concepts; and preparedness arrangements.
To clarify the expectations of the Secretariat for the arrangements between the IAEA, States Parties and Member States, the Agency issues the Emergency Notification and Assistance Technical Operations Manual (ENATOM). The Response Plan for Incident and Emergencies (REPLIE) provides the high-level basis for the Secretariat’s emergency preparedness and response to incidents or emergencies that is effectively compatible with the ENATOM and JPLAN. Irrespective of the cause of a radiation event, the Plan is to facilitate a timely and sustainable response. The implementation of the Plan relies on competent, experienced and trained personnel from the Secretariat.
The IEC regularly organizes and supports various levels of exercises. These exercises are referred to as Convention Exercise (ConvEx). A ConvEx-1 tests communication; a ConvEx-2 tests response times; and a ConvEx-3 tests the full operation of the information exchange mechanism worldwide.
Event Reporting and Information Exchange
An element of IEC’s activities involves event reporting and information exchange and sharing. Currently there are several reporting systems in operation including ENAC—the Early Notification and Assistance Conventions Web site and NEWS—Nuclear Event Web-based System operated by the IEC. In addition, the Illicit Trafficking Data Base (ITDB) and Incident Reporting System (IRS) are operated by other parts of the IAEA. The IEC is developing a common, unified international system for communications of nuclear and radiological events to provide for global, reliable, and secure means for effectively and efficiently exchanging and/or sharing information and data for routine communications, exercises, notifications, alerts, and response to nuclear and radiological events.
Immediate assessment of reported information and prompt activation of response 24 h a day, 7 d a week and prompt actions, if required by Member States, are ensured by the IAEA Incident and Emergency System (IES), which provides a 24-h contact point for notification and requests for assistance.
The IES consists of an on-call system with 24/7 coverage and a response system. The on-call system ensures that the IEC initial response to received messages concerning an actual or potential nuclear or radiological incident or emergency or requests for assistance or media reports is prompt and efficient. It also allows for rapid activation of the IEC if required while the response system under activation ensures smooth and efficient implementation of the Agency’s REPLIE.
Parties to the Assistance Convention have agreed to cooperate with each other and with the IAEA to facilitate prompt provision of assistance in case of a nuclear or radiological emergency, in order to mitigate its consequences. As part of the IAEA’s strategy for supporting practical implementation of the Assistance Convention and in order to coordinate a global response, the IEC manages the global Response Assistance Network (RANET). RANET aims to facilitate assistance in case of a nuclear or radiological incident or emergency in a timely and effective manner and in principal on a regional basis. It is an integrated system for the provision of international assistance to minimize the actual or potential radiological consequences for health, environment and property. It also facilitates the harmonization of emergency assistance capabilities, exchange of relevant information, feedback of experience, and complements the IAEA initiatives to promote emergency preparedness and response in its Member States. RANET teams can assess a radiological situation, predict the possible evolution, provide technical advice, initiate stabilization activities, including source recovery, provide medical advice/consultation, medical assistance or advice on public health, and perform biodosimetry and bioassay, modeling and prognosis. Assistance may be provided in the form of an assistance mission, field assistance team or remote assistance from assisting State’s offices and laboratories. The type and form of assistance is specified and agreed in an Assistance Action Plan that is prepared for requested assistance.
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