The Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI) welcomed the international experts of a working group of the Heads of European Radiological Protection Competent Authorities (HERCA). At the meeting in Brugg, almost 30 specialists discussed subjects including the implementation of the European radiation protection directive. For a number of years now, this working group has focused on the harmonisation of emergency preparedness in Europe.
Georges Piller, Chairman of the Working Group on Emergencies (WGE) of HERCA since October 2014, points out: “A nuclear accident in Europe could have cross-border implications.” Dr Piller, who is also Director of ENSI’s Radiation Protection Division, adds: “This is why Switzerland backs the development of coordinated approaches to emergency preparedness.”
Joint approach to emergency preparedness
A new Euratom directive (Directive 2013/59/Euratom) came into force in the European Union at the start of February 2014. This directive stipulates safety standards to regulate protection against ionising radiation.
The HERCA Action Plan requires measures to be implemented in various areas including emergency preparedness. The Member States have until February 2018 to implement this directive. “The aim is to foster a harmonised approach to emergency preparedness throughout Europe,” Georges Piller explains. It is also envisaged that Switzerland will implement the directive.
At the meeting in Brugg, the experts developed a shared understanding of the directive’s concepts and requirements. Work was also undertaken on a guideline for bilateral agreements .
Several Swiss organisations represented
23 European countries participate in HERCA’s Working Group on Emergencies. Staff members from the Federal Office for Civil Protection (FOCP), the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) and ENSI represent Switzerland in this body. The meeting on 22 and 23 January 2015 in Brugg was attended by almost 30 participants, including one representative each from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).