IAEA reviews Hungary's nuclear emergency preparedness, response framework

Energy Trade

An expert team of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has concluded a five-day follow-up mission to review Hungary's emergency preparedness and response framework for nuclear and radiological emergencies at the request of the Hungarian Government.

The mission focused on assessing emergency preparedness and response (EPR) arrangements in the country in light of recommendations made in an initial Emergency Preparedness Review (EPREV) in 2016.

Chris Dijkens, former director of international enforcement cooperation at the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment of the Netherlands, led the seven-person review team, which included experts from Canada, France, Germany, Portugal, and two members from the IAEA.

“Hungary has addressed the recommendations from the initial EPREV mission and taken significant steps to improve its preparedness for nuclear and radiological emergencies,” Dijkens said. “For example, the country has developed both an annual and a long-term training program for various emergency workers, and it has also published a protection strategy for such emergencies. This follow-up mission will help Hungary to further enhance emergency arrangements and capabilities.”

Hungary generates half of its electricity from four reactors at the Paks nuclear power plant and is planning to build another two reactors at the same site. The country also operates two research reactors, an isotope production facility, and a national radioactive waste repository and uses high-activity radiation sources in industrial, medical, and research applications.

After meeting with counterparts at the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority and visiting the Ministry of Interior's National Directorate General for Disaster Management and Agroster, the EPREV team identified three main strengths in Hungary's EPR framework.

These include that the efforts to improve the country's emergency arrangements reflect a strong commitment to nuclear and radiological emergency preparedness and the enhanced requirements to ensure operators are well-prepared to mitigate consequences under their responsibility in case of an emergency at their site. The report highlights the strengths of the comprehensive annual and long-term training and exercise plan for the Hungarian nuclear emergency response system.

“This follow-up mission demonstrated substantial progress in the practical integration of the IAEA's safety standards in the Hungarian emergency preparedness and response framework,” said Carlos Torres Vidal, director of the IAEA's Incident and emergency center.

The team also made suggestions to finalize the analysis of the National Nuclear Emergency Response Plan and the assessment of its adherence to IAEA safety standards. Besides enhancing coordination at the national level, the expert group recommended increasing awareness among general medical practitioners to recognize symptoms of acute radiation exposure.

“The EPREV mission in 2016 paved the way for the creation of an action plan to strengthen Hungary's emergency preparedness and response system,” said Andrea Beatrix Kádár, president of the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority. “The follow-up mission highlighted our efforts in its implementation and reinforced our commitment to further developments.”

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