GRS supports the new Federal Radiological Situation Centre
In 2017, the new Radiation Protection Act (StlSchG) has led to various innovations in the field of radiation protection. One of these concerns the optimisation of radiological emergency preparedness. An important step in this respect is the establishment of the Federal Radiological Situation Centre under the direction of the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU).
GRS is one of the institutions that support the work of the Federal Radiological Situation Centre with its emergency organisation in accordance with the new legal regulations. The Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BfE) and the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) are also involved in supporting the situation centre.
What are the tasks of the Federal Radiological Situation Centre?
The Federal Radiological Situation Centre becomes active in the event of a radiological emergency, the consequences of which may affect Germany. These include, for example, accidents in German nuclear power plants or abroad or severe accidents during the transport of radioactive material. The Federal Radiological Situation Centre collects, evaluates and documents all available data on the event and gives a so-called radiological situation picture. This situation picture describes the current radiological situation – this includes e.g. measurements and meteorological data – and predicts the further development as far as possible. It is forwarded by the Federal Radiological Situation Centre to the Länder, other federal authorities and the joint information and situation centre of the Federation and the Länder (GMLZ) of the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance and serves as a basis for decisions on any necessary protective measures.
In addition, the Federal Radiological Situation Centre also performs coordination and reporting tasks. It is the contact for authorities in Germany and abroad, for example, when it comes to coordinating emergency protection measures.
During the CORE exercise in October 2017, the new Federal Radiological Situation Centre was able to simulate an emergency situation for the first time. For the exercise scenario – a fictitious accident in the French nuclear power plant Cattenom – the Federal Radiological Situation Centre provided help for the assessment of the radiological situation and a prognosis. At the same time, the Federal Radiological Situation Centre supported the ministries, authorities and institutions involved in the coordination of measures to protect the population.
Where is the Federal Radiological Situation Centre located?
The Federal Radiological Situation Centre is not located in one place, but a spatially distributed network. The central point of the network is the Federal Environment Ministry. The participating institutions use their own emergency preparedness and response infrastructure in case of demand.
For such cases, GRS provides its Emergency Centre in the city centre of Cologne. The Emergency Centre has the necessary technical and personnel infrastructure to evaluate information on the current situation in the plant concerned in the event of a severe accident, to make forecasts on other possible developments and to communicate with all relevant actors.
How does radiological emergency preparedness and response work in Germany?
In the event of a radiological emergency, e.g. due to an accident in a nuclear power plant, radiological emergency response measures will be initiated. The aim of all these actions is to protect people and the environment as far as possible from the dangers of ionising radiation. A distinction is made between on-site and off-site emergency preparedness.
On-site emergency preparedness and response comprises all measures taken within a nuclear installation. The aim of these measures is to prevent or minimise the release of radioactive substances. An example of this is the use of mobile emergency diesel generators in the event of complete loss of other external and internal power supplies. Off-site emergency preparedness and response consists of all measures to protect the population from the dangers of radioactive substances released.
On the one hand, this includes measures of disaster control, such as recommendations for staying indoors, the distribution and intake of iodine tablets or the evacuation of areas affected. On the other hand, off-site emergency preparedness and response also comprises medium to long-term emergency management to reduce radiation-related risks. Concrete measures may include restrictions on the consumption of agricultural products contaminated with radioactive substances.