HERCA and WENRA propose a European approach for the management of nuclear emergency situations

Published on 27/11/2014 at 16:00

Information notice




During their joint meeting of 21st October 2014, the associations HERCA (Heads of European radiological Protection Competent Authorities) and WENRA (Western European Nuclear Regulators' Association) adopted a joint position aiming to improve management and cross-border coordination in emergency situations.            At present, each European country has emergency preparedness and response arrangements for managing nuclear emergency situations. However, the population protection measures that would be implemented in the event of a severe nuclear accident differ significantly from one country to another, which could lead to major difficulties, especially for facilities located near national borders.            The position of HERCA and WENRA aims at promoting early information exchanges between the countries concerned and the consistency of the population protection actions recommended issued by the nuclear safety and radiation protection authorities. One essential principle is that during the emergency phase and after receiving the necessary information, the neighbouring countries align themselves with the protection measures taken by the country in which the accident has occurred.             HERCA and WENRA consider that the Fukushima accident has shown that a severe nuclear accident cannot be completely excluded anywhere in the world, including in Europe. Considering high level of safety of the European nuclear power plants and their improvements resulting from the lessons learned from past incidents and accidents, the risk of a severe nuclear accident occurring in Europe is nevertheless very low. But as improbable such a risk might seem, the management of a severe nuclear accident must be prepared for. Under such extreme conditions, the possibility of very few information being available - despite the urgent need for population protective measures - cannot be ruled out. A European approach designed for these circumstances has been proposed.            HERCA and WENRA thus consider that in Europe:

  • evacuation should be prepared up to 5 km around nuclear power plants, and sheltering and ITB up to 20 km;
  • a general strategy should be defined in order to be able to extend evacuation up to 20 km and sheltering and ITB up to 100 km;

On these bases, each national nuclear safety and radiation protection authority will undertake discussions with its respective civil protection authorities with a view to implementing the recommended measures.

Date of last update : 09/02/2023