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1994, International Radiological Exercise

INTERNATIONAL RADIOLOGICAL EXERCISE 1994

(RADEX 94) REPORT

RESULTS OF RADEX 94 CONDUCTED AT FORT RICHARDSON ARMY BASE

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA · UNITED STATES

JUNE 28-30, 1994

-Prepared For-

Office of Radiation and Indoor Air U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

401M Street, SW Washington, DC 20460

-Prepared By-

Advanced Systems Technology, Inc.

(NOTE: Only the Executive Summary is included in this web site.)

I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Recognizing a concern regarding the emergency response capability among member nations, both the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) ministers and Northern Forum Governors determined that a radiological drill would serve as an excellent forum to identify areas requiring improvement. It was decided that the overall objective of the exercise would be to assess the processes for: 1) notification and communication amongst counties affected by a radiological accident, 2) identifying the need for and obtaining assistance from other countries, and 3) protective action decision making.

A Tabletop exercise was used to examine the processes and assess the capabilities of the Arctic nations as the Players were led through the three phases of a severe nuclear accident at the fictitious Boom Atomic Power Station. The moderators used questions from a questionnaire, presented to each country in advance of the exercise, as a guide in eliciting response and generating discussions of the interface and coordination issues facing the Arctic countries.

Although improvements can be made in each area, a review of the specific objectives indicated that the processes for the following aspects of an emergency response appear to be generally well established for the Arctic Nations:

  • Reaching conclusions on the need for national interventions.
  • Determining actions regarding the export and import of food and feeding stuffs.
  • Identifying the need for assistance and requesting support in response to a radiological emergency.

A fourth process examined, alerting and communicating with neighboring countries and the international community in case of a nuclear accident, taking into consideration bilateral/multi-lateral agreements and international obligations, confirmed that early notification and timely communication of information are essential for an effective response. The examination of this process identified a need far timely and unfettered transfer of technical information between all concerned nations. It also demonstrated that countries should not exclusively rely on the international Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for notification of nuclear emergencies and receipt of follow-up information.

Seven recommendations were presented to the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy group as a result of weaknesses identified during RADEX 94. Resented in detail within this report the following summarizes the recommendations:

    1) Develop a Regional Arctic Response Plan/Strategy that serves to coordinate AEPS member countries’ abilities to respond to a nuclear incident in the Arctic environment.

    2) Continue to identify potential sources of releases of radioactive materials winch could have an impact on the Arctic environment.

    3) Support international efforts to review and improve the level of safety and the emergency response capabilities of all nuclear facilities which pose risks to the Arctic environment.

    4) Adopt internationally recognized scientific guidance from such organizations as the international Commission on Radiological protection (ICRP).

    5) Freely share research and emergency response experience and information obtained as a result of responding to nuclear emergencies.

    6) Recommend to the appropriate international organizations that greater emphasis be placed on the psychological aspects of a radiological emergency.

    7) Consider me development of atmospheric dispersion models which more accurately reflect the natural atmospheric processes that take place in the Arctic.

The participants and observers of RADEX 94 were asked to evaluate the exercise. Based on the evaluations received, the overall exercise rating was excellent. The evaluation categories included: exercise design, exercise planning, exercise control, international interactions, and an overall exercise rating. Appendix E (not included here) provides a summary of the exercise evaluation results.

II. GENERAL INFORMATION

A. Purpose/Background

    The delegation at the AEPS ministers meeting held at Nuuk, Greenland, in September 1993 and the delegation of Northern Forum Governors meeting held at Tromso, Norway, in October 1993, expressed concern regarding the emergency response capability among member nations. The AEPS is composed of Environment Ministers from the eight member Arctic nations; the Northern Forum is an association of 21 northern State and Regional Governors. The delegation at each of these meetings decided that a radiological drill in the Tabletop format would serve as an excellent forum to identify areas requiring improvement.

    Designed to meet the expectations of the AEPS and Northern Forum, RADEX 94 was conducted on June 29, 1994, at the National Guard Armory located on Pt. Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska. Participants included representatives from the United States, Russia, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark. Section C provides a detailed listing of the exercise participants. The overall purpose and intent of the exercise was to assess the adequacy of radiological emergency response plans and capabilities amongst countries around the Arctic Circle. The overall objective of the exercise was to assess the processes for: 1) notification and communication amongst countries affected by a radiological accident, 2) identifying the need for and obtaining assistance from other countries, and 3) protective action decision making.

B. Planning and Conducting RADEX 94

    1. Exercise Planning Staff and Key Personnel

    RADEX 94 exercise planning included the efforts of international, national, and regional agencies. Internationally, the AEPS Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response Working Group assisted in the planning, preparation, and conduct of the exercise.

    Nationally, the EPA, through its Office of Radiation and indoor Air, served as the lead national agency and received assistance from other national agencies during the development of the tabletop exercise. EPA provided the National Drill Coordinator (Amy Newman) and Drill Co-Facilitator (Craig Conklin). Exercise material composition and logistical arrangements were accomplished with the support of EPA health physicists (Jon Edwards and Ritchey Lyman).

    Several other national agencies provided significant resources to assist in scenario development, drill planning, and exercise execution. Specifically, the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of State (DOS), Department of Transportation (DOT), United States Coast Guard (USCG), and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) provided personnel, equipment, and/or funding.

  • The Department of Energy (Wes Taylor), in coordination with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) (Walt Schalk) Atmosphere Release Advisory Capability (ARAC), developed radiological release impact maps.
  • The Department of State (Tom Armbruster) coordinated activities with various national embassies and international organizations.
  • The United States Coast Guard (Ray Perry) developed the maritime aspects of the accident scenario.
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (Aby Mohseni) developed the reactor accident scenario and dose projections using the Radiological Assessment System for Consequence Analysis (RASCAL). Mr. Mohseni was also a drill Co~Facilitator.

Regionally, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) provided the Regional Drill Facilitator (Larry Iwamoto) and Drill Coordinator (ADEC Deputy Commissioner, Mead Treadwell). Other Regional agencies tasked to provide assistance included the:

  • Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (ADMVA);
  • Alaska Division of Emergency Services (ADES);
  • Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (ADHSS);
  • University of Alaska; and
  • ADEC Divisions and Regional Offices.
  • 2. Conducting the Exercise

    RADEX 94 was conducted as a Tabletop exercise. A Tabletop is an exercise in which the participants of various organizations (players) are all seared in one roam arranged by response organization, facility or function. This type of exercise was used to examine the process of responding to a nuclear accident without concern for the pressures, stress, or the need to operate emergency centers or use communications systems.

    Based on the exercise scenario, planning questions were completed by exercise participants prior to the exercise. The questions requested information regarding response capabilities and actions to be taken in the event of a nuclear accident. Therefore, prior knowledge of the scenario by participants was acceptable and then responses to the questionnaire were not critiqued.

    The two and a half day session followed the agenda, as shown in Appendix A. An overview of the exercise and Moderator and Player briefings were conducted on the first day. Additionally, each country was allowed to meet separately, providing them an opportunity to discuss their responses to the anticipated questions based on their countries’ response plans and interface procedures. The exercise itself was conducted on the second day, with a debriefing and “lessons learned” session on the morning of the third day.

    The exercise was conducted by two principal moderators, Craig Conklin and Aby Mohseni. The moderators used scenario information and principal questions to elicit responses and generate discussions of the interface and coordination issues as the Playas were led through the three phases of a severe nuclear accident: threat, release and post-release phases. Each phase began with a description of the current status of the response. Although questions were directed to each country’s principal spokesperson, some were deferred to support staff or redirected to another principal spokesperson. Recorders, Jacquelyn Rhone and David Richards, were assigned to take notes and identify issues that arose during the Tabletop.

    At the end of Phase 3, the Players were asked to state the areas of weakness identified as they responded to the fictitious BAPS accident affecting Arcticland. The Moderators and Recorders reviewed the results of the meeting to determine whether the specific objectives were met and to list the “draft” recommendations presented by venous countries. The “draft” recommendations were reviewed with the Players during the concluding session held the morning after the exercise.

    C. Participating Countries and Organizations

      International exercise participants consisted of representatives from several response groups. AEPS Emergency Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Working Group participating member nations were Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States- Regional experts from the Northern Forum, which consists of 21 Governors of Regions bordering the Arctic, were also participants. Other exercise participants and observers included a representative from the international Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and members of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) (such as, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Environmental Defense Fund, and U.S Arctic Network).

      National participants in the Exercise included representatives from the EPA, DOT (USCG), DOE, DOS, NRC, Department of Defense (WD), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of the interior (D01), Department of Health and Human Sciences (DHHS), and Department of Agriculture (USDA)-

      Regional exercise participants included ADEC, ADMVA, ADES, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (ADHSS), Alaska Department of Fish and Game (AOFG), and Alaska State Emergency Response Commission (SERC)· Emergency response experts from the local Alaskan Boroughs listed below also participated in RADEX 94:

    • North Slope Borough;
    • Northwest Arctic Borough;
    • Fairbanks North Star Borough; and the
    • Municipality of Anchorage.

    The names, addresses, and phone numbers of RADEX 94 participants and observers are listed in Appendix B.

    III. OBJECTIVES, SCENARIO, AND RESPONSE PHASES

    A. Exercise Objectives

    To meet me overall objective of the Tabletop, the following specific objectives were developed to examine the process(es) for:

      1. Alerting and communicating with neighboring countries and the international community in case of a nuclear accident, taking into consideration bilateral/multilateral agreements and international obligations:
      2. Reaching conclusions on the need for national interventions ~ protective measures:
      3. Defining actions regarding the export and import of contaminated food and feeding stuffs; and
      4. Identifying me need for assistance and requesting support in response to a radiological emergency.

    B. Scenario Summary

    The simulated accident was postulated to occur on the fictitious island country of Arcticland. Arcticland is located in the vicinity of the Arctic Circle. The population of Arcticlanders is a mixture of native islanders and immigrants from northeast Europe. The main industries on the island are fishing and tourism.

    The Boom Atomic Power Station (BAPS), the origin of the radioactive release, is a U.S.-designed pressurized water reactor that is located on the coast of the island. The 1,000 megawatt-electric station was designed to provide electricity, steam, and drinking water to the islanders. At the time of the simulated accident, the plant had been operating at full power for several months.

    A detailed exercise scenario is contained m Appendix C of this report.

    C. Response Phases

    1. Phase 1: Threat Phase

    The Threat Phase began on Tuesday, June 28, 1994 at 9:30 p.m. The following summarizes Phase I:

      There is a significant degradation of critical safety functions at BAPS. If these functions cannot be restored, there will be a large release of radioactive materials from the plant. Because of the potential for a release, the utility has developed several risk estimates. The prevailing weather conditions threaten the northern Arctic Community.

      The Players’ response to questions initiated by the Moderators focused on:

    a. Manner in which alerts and notifications are made;
    b. Information that is critical for decisions at this time;
    c. Protective action decisions that might be established; and
    d. Information that would he provided to the public and authorities in other countries, etc.

    2. Phase 2: Release Phase

      The Release Phase begins on Wednesday. June 29, 1994 at 12:00 a.m. The following summarizes Phase 2:
      There has been a significant release of radioactive material BAPS. Due to the loss of critical safety functions, the release was larger than initially predicted. The release lasted several hours before it could be terminated.

    The Players were to determine whether the decisions made during Phase 1 were implemented and if any Phase I decisions need to he modified far Phase 2. They were also expected to consider the following:

    a. Appropriate response actions;
    b. Protective actions in additional affected / potentially threatened areas;
    c. Possible alert of additional population groups: and
    d. Issuance of new information to neighboring countries and international organizations, etc.

    3. Phase 3: Post-Release Phase

    The Post-Release Phase began on the scenario timeline of Saturday, July 9, 1994 at 9:00 a.m. The following summarizes Phase 3:

      The radioactive plume has dissipated resulting in widespread deposition of radioactive material in the countries adjacent to Arcticland and the Arctic. Deposition patterns vary considerably due to the changing weather patterns existing as the plume traversed the environment.

    The Players were expected to primarily focus their discussions on actions their countries would take to:

    a. Provide updated information to the international community; and
    b. Protect public health and safety (e.g., food interdiction and population relocation).

    A list of general questions on emergency planning and preparedness was provided to RADEX 94 participants in advance of the exercise as a process to review existing planning and preparedness capabilities within the region or country. A summary of these responses is contained in Appendix D of this report.

    IV. LESSONS LEARNED

    A. Conclusions

    Several conclusions can be drawn from the RADEX 94 tabletop exercise. These conclusions have been grouped according to the specific objectives that RADEX 94 was designed to achieve.

      Objective 1: Examine the process for alerting and communicating with neighboring countries and the international community in case of a nuclear accident, taking into consideration bilarcraumultilatera1 agreements and international obligations.

      Conclusion: Early notification of a nuclear emergency and the timely communication of information ore essential for on effective response.

      During, nuclear emergency there exists a need for the unfettered transfer of technical information between all concerned nations. There also exists a need for the timely communication of follow-up information that addresses the status of plant equipment, the radiological conditions at the accident/emergency site, the measures being implemented to protect public health and safety, and the monitoring efforts being utilized by affected nations to track the movement of radioactive material in the environment.

      The IAEA notification system, in accordance with its convention on early notification, is designed to provide potentially affected states and the rest of the international community with verified and authoritative confirmation of a nuclear accident. However, because IAEA must verify the information before it is transmitted to a very large number of counties and numerous points of contact within these countries, some countries may learn of an accident from other sources prior to an IAEA notification. Also, the IAEA does not collect and distribute all follow-up information, related to a specific nuclear emergency. Therefore, countries should not exclusively rely on the IAEA for notification of nuclear emergencies and receipt of follow-up information.

      Objective 2: Examine the process for reaching conclusions on the need for national interventions or protective measures.

      Conclusion: The process for reaching conclusions on the need for national interventions appears to be in place and consistent with international guidance.

      Each country represented at RADEX 94 has developed a system for determining the need to implement national interventions for the protection of public health and safety and environmental quality in their country that appears to be generally consistent with the recommendations of international organizations. However, there are enough differences in the systems that then should be an exchange of information between countries so that these differences are known and understood.

      Objective 3: Examine the processes for determining actions regarding the export and import of contaminated food and feeding stuffs.

      Conclusion: The process for determining actions regarding the export and import of contaminated food and feeding stuffs appears to be in place and consistent.

      Each country represented at RADEX 94 has developed a system for identifying the need for, and implementing, national actions for controlling the import and export of food and feeding staffs to prevent the spread of radioactive contamination. The criteria utilized by each country appears to be generally consistent with the recommendations of international organizations. However, there are enough differences in the systems that there should be an exchange of information between countries so that these differences are known and understood.

      Objective 4: Examine the process for identifying the need for assistance and requesting support in response to a radiological emergency.

      Conclusion: The process for identifying the need for assistance and requesting support in response to a radiological emergency appears to be in place

      Each country has developed a system for identifying the need for assistance and requesting support to mitigate the adverse effects associated with a nuclear emergency. Although in almost every case, requests for and offers of assistance are arranged through an organization within the central government that specializes in foreign relations, the actual support may come ban several different government agencies. The member countries of the AEPS are not fully informed of 1) the appropriate agencies and points of contact for requesting assistance from member states; and 2) the appropriate agencies and points of contact within those agencies that would actually provide the requested support.

    B. Recommendations

    Working with the conclusions arrived at from RADEX 94 play, the participants developed the following recommendations as ways to further enhance the AEPS member countries’ abilities to respond to emergency events:

    1. Develop Regional Arctic Response Plan / Strategy that serves to coordinate AEPS member countries’ abilities to respond to natural and man-made incidents in the Arctic environment. Such a Plan / Strategy should take into consideration and make use of existing bilateral and multilateral agreements and other international emergency response planning activities. This Plan / Strategy should:

    • Address the need far and feasibility of establishing regional cooperative communications links for initial notification and follow-up communications and/or improving the effectiveness of existing communications links;
    • Review the adequacy of environmental monitoring systems around specific nuclear and industrial facilities and the means of reporting these monitoring results. Where gaps or weaknesses exist, AEPS member nations should provide additional capability so that the emergency response needs of all Arctic nations are met;
    • Contain mechanisms to prevent, and if necessary, counter the release of misinformation with accurate information to reduce the negative economic impact on affected and/or neighboring countries;
    • Identify the direct points of contact in the regional and central governments through which a smoother now of information and assistance may be achieved;
    • Establish a mechanism for allowing fellow AEPS member countries to get together quickly to coordinate response activities for rendering assistance and evaluating the seventy of the accident;
    • Establish a program for conducting exercises and drills to evaluate the effectiveness of the Plan / Strategy; and
    • Address the logistics associated with receiving support originating ham moderate climates to facilitate operating effectively in the Arctic environment.

    2. AEPS members should continue to identify potential sources of releases of radioactive materials which could have an impact on the Arctic environment.

    3. AEPS members should support international efforts to review and improve the level of safety and the emergency response capabilities of all nuclear facilities which pose risks to the Arctic environment. As priorities for improvements are established, ascertain whether Arctic needs are considered and ensure that specific facility needs are identified and shared among Arctic nations.

    4. AEPS members should adopt internationally recognized scientific guidance from such organizations as the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and recommend that other nations do the same.

    5. AEPS members should freely share research and emergency response experience and information obtained as a result of responding to nuclear emergencies.

    6. AEPS members should recommend to the appropriate international organizations that greater emphasis be placed on the psychological aspects of a radiological emergency. This greater emphasis should be reflected in preparing for and responding to a radiological accident.

    Due to the unique characteristics of the Arctic environment, AEPS members should consider the development of atmospheric dispersion models which more accurately re0ect the natural atmospheric processes that take place in the Arctic.

    C. Additional Consideration

    Because of the uniqueness of the Arctic environment and its indigenous people, industrial accidents which result in a significant release of hazardous materials to the environment could lead to catastrophic impacts on the indigenous people and their way of life.