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What is nuclear emergency preparedness and response?

Overview of the structure of the nuclear emergency protection in Germany Structure of the nuclear emergency protection in GermanyStructure of the nuclear emergency protection in Germany

In the event of an accident involving a nuclear plant in Germany or in a neighboring country, radiological emergency response operations will be initiated to protect the public.

Emergency preparedness and response for nuclear plants, nuclear power stations or intermediate storage facilities for nuclear fuel is subdivided into "on-site" and "off-site" emergency preparedness and response.

On-site emergency preparedness and response

On-site emergency preparedness and response includes all technical and organisational measures taken within a nuclear plant (such as a nuclear power station) in order to prevent, or at least minimise, any release of radioactive substances. Should on-site emergency response fail completely or partially in case of emergency, there may be releases of radioactive substances from the nuclear plant. This would require off-site emergency response.

Off-site emergency preparedness and response

Off-site emergency preparedness and response includes all measures taken outside a nuclear plant to protect the population and the environment in case of a nuclear incident or accident. A distinction is made between disaster control and precautionary radiation protection.

Disaster Control

Disaster control is aimed at immediate emergency response in the vicinity of a nuclear plant. Disaster control planning and disaster control measures are within the scope of the states. The Federation, in consultation with the states, provides a framework for disaster control planning in the nuclear sector in order to ensure a uniform course of action for the states, as far as possible.

Basic distaster control measures are primarily short-term emergency procedures such as:

  • Evacuation based on prepared plans, i.e. a far-reaching but also effective protection measure, particularly if it is taken before the passage of the radioactive cloud,
  • Distribution and intake of iodine tablets to reduce radiation exposure of the thyroid gland,
  • Request to stay indoors for protection against radioactive radiation,
  • Warning the general public against the consumption of freshly harvested food and fresh milk.

In the early stage of an accident at a nuclear power station, it is vital for the protection of man and the environment to be able to immediately assess the radiological situation. To this end it is necessary to simulate the dispersion of the radioactive materials released and their further behaviour in the environment.

Precautionary radiation protection

Precautionary radiation protection is geared to cope with emergencies on a large scale based on precautionary protection of the general public and serves for preventive health protection. In those areas where disaster control operations are not justified, measures of precautionary radiation protection help reduce the radiation exposure of the general public. To this end, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, supported by other federal and state authorities, monitors the environmental radioactivity and evaluates the data.

The Federal Environment Ministry, BMUB, imposes prohibitions and restrictions on the consumption of foodstuffs, if necessary. In consultation with the states, the BMUB can recommend certain forms of behavior to the general public. The legal basis for this is the Precautionary Radiation Protection Act, (Precautionary Radiation Protection Act).

State of 2017.05.10

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