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Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority offers expert support to the European Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC)

Publication date 14.9.2023 14.28 | Published in English on 14.9.2023 at 14.52
Press release

The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) has the main international responsibility for providing expert support related to radiation and nuclear threats to the European Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) until the end of January 2024. In practice, the responsibility means that the ERCC can request expert support from STUK in evaluating internationally significant nuclear events and their consequences.

The European Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) is based in Brussels, and it directs and coordinates response operations under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism in major emergencies and disasters. The civil protection mechanism also covers nuclear power plant accidents and other incidents involving radioactive substances.

The expert support STUK offers to the ERCC is based on the EAHSP-RN service project. Launched in spring 2022 and funded by the European Commission, the project involves a European consortium led by the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre that provides expert support to the ERCC for radiation and nuclear accident threats. In addition to STUK and the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre, members of the consortium include the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium and the consultancy agency ENCO, which specialises, for example, in radiation and nuclear safety. The project will run until April 2024.

“The EAHSP-RN project monitors radiation and nuclear threat situations globally and assesses their impact on people and the environment. The most important thing in providing expert support is to react in a timely manner and be able to clearly communicate to the ERCC which radiation and nuclear threats are real concerns, what effects they may have and how far-reaching the effects are in terms of geographical scope and time,” says Aapo Tanskanen, Principal Advisor for International Co-operation at STUK.

The war in Ukraine increases the risk of radiation accidents

Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, which started in February 2022, has increased preparedness for CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) threats in Europe. STUK supported the ERCC in assessing the radiation situation in Ukraine already in spring 2022. In addition to expert assistance, STUK has sent equipment to Ukraine.

The EAHSP-RN service project will continue to closely monitor the situation in Ukraine. STUK’s experts prepare situation assessments for the ERCC on the most significant observations and changes from the point of view of radiation safety in Ukraine. STUK plays an important role in evaluating possible new situations and changes and in gaining an understanding of the overall situation.

“The situational picture of radiation and nuclear safety in Ukraine is based on information obtained through the co-operation network. This is a challenging task, because the situation is constantly changing, reliable information is difficult to obtain and there is also a lot of disinformation being spread. Despite the uncertainty, assessing the situation is extremely important. For example, the decision made by the EU at the end of August 2022 to deliver five million iodine tablets to Ukraine was partly based on the situational picture compiled by the ERCC,” Aapo Tanskanen continues.

In addition to expert assistance and equipment support, the ERCC support project includes the provision of radiation safety training and practice for ERCC staff. This autumn, STUK is responsible for developing a training scenario for a training drill related to radiation hazards. The purpose of the training is to ensure that the procedures for launching radiation and nuclear threat monitoring function as planned and as agreed with the ERCC.

Further information

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