Clubs of Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Authorities

The Heads of European Radiological Protection Competent Authorities (HERCA) and the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA)

Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA)

WENRA was created in February 1999 on the initiative of André-Claude Lacoste, who at the time was head of the ASN. He was the first chair of this association. The members of WENRA are the heads of the nuclear safety regulators of the 18 European countries equipped with nuclear power reactors, namely Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

In March 2003, the WENRA members decided to integrate into their association the nuclear safety regulators of seven "nuclear" countries (having at least one nuclear power reactor) who at the time were candidates for membership of the European Union, namely Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

The objectives of WENRA at the time of its creation were:

  • to give the European Union an independent capability to examine the problems of nuclear safety and its regulation in the candidate countries for European Union membership. In October 2000, WENRA published a report on nuclear safety in the seven nuclear countries wishing to join the European Union, which contributed to the position adopted by the European Council on the high level of nuclear safety required in order to be accepted into the Union.
  • to develop a common approach to nuclear safety, regulatory in particular, within the European Union.

To this end, WENRA has created two working groups:

  • the first on nuclear power reactors,
  • the second on the management of spent fuels and radioactive waste and on decommissioning operations.

These groups first defined reference levels based on the most recent IAEA standards and the most stringent approaches practised in the European Union for each technical theme. After an initial pilot study on the reactors (the conclusions of which are available on the ASN website) had demonstrated the appropriateness and effectiveness of the chosen methodology, a process for assessing national practices with respect to these reference levels was developed. The conclusions of the working groups were made public at a seminar held in Brussels on 9th February 2006.

It was decided on that occasion that each member will present a plan of action aiming to bring its national practices into conformity with the defined references levels for any technical domain in which differences are identified; national practices must be harmonised by 2010.

This work confirmed WENRA's ability to conduct a harmonisation initiative using a bottom-up approach.

Further to the Fukushima accident, WENRA has produced technical specifications defining the technical requirements for the implementation of the stress-tests for Europe as a whole.

Olivier Gupta, CEO of ASN, is Chair of WENRA


Heads of European Radiological Protection Competent Authorities (HERCA)

The association HERCA (Heads of European Radiological Protection Competent Authorities was created on the initiative of ASN in 2007. HERCA proposes concrete elements promoting the harmonisation of regulations and practices. HERCA has thus become a major actor of radiation protection in Europe.

The creation context

The European regulations on radiation protection stem from a regulatory base common to the states of the European Union; they also stem from each state's interpretation of the European rules and the application of these rules to varying extents in the national law of each state. The transposition of the community rules for radiation protection by the States is  consequently heterogeneous within the European Union; in some cases significant differences are observed between the European rule and that adopted by national administrations. This concerns, for example, the definition of measures to protect the general public in the event of a nuclear accident, which differ from one neighbouring country to the next, or the measures to protect itinerant workers, or the criteria for authorising the release of patients following therapy with iodine 131.

ASN is convinced that progress in European harmonisation requires the organising of close discussions between the heads of the European radiation protection regulation authorities, in the same way as the discussions that predominate in the area of nuclear safety. In 2007, following the example of WENRA, ASN was the first mover in the creation of HERCA.


The aim of the association is to develop a common approach to radiation protection within Europe, to harmonise practices and regulations between the States in order to contribute to a high level of radiation protection in the countries of the European Union.


51[1] Authorities competent in radiation protection from 31 European countries [2], including the 28 countries of the European Union, are members of HERCA. HERCA works with the European Commission on the harmonisation of radiation protection practices.


The association is underpinned by a "Board of Heads" of the radiation protection authorities, the supreme decision-making body in which the European Commission participates as a "privileged observer". HERCA also functions through thematic working groups (WG) made up of technical supervisors and high-level experts. ASN is represented on this Board by the Chairman of ASN, deputised by a commissioner and the director of ionising radiation and health.

Ongoing working groups

At present 5 groups are working on the following themes:

  • Outside workers and dosimetric passport
  • Justification and optimisation of the use of sources in non-medical fields
  • Medical applications
  • Preparedness for and management of emergency situations
  • Veterinary applications

ASN is represented in all the working groups and also provides the secretariat of the medical applications working group. ASN also ensures the general secretariat of the association.

Completed and ongoing projects

To date, several projects have been approved by HERCA:

In the medical field:

  • a statement on the use of full-body scanners in airports;
  • a document that lists the criteria for releasing patients having received a treatment with iodine 131 and a model of a European card to be used by patients having undergone iodine 131 therapy;
  • a review of the recommendations on the involvement of stakeholders in medical practices that use ionising radiation;
  • an agreement with the manufacturers of medical scanners to work on reducing doses delivered to patients, which is currently being monitored;
  • a joint statement on the practice of individual "screening".

In the field of radiological emergency preparedness

  • document on emergency preparedness on practical proposals for further harmonisation of the reactions in European countries to any distant nuclear or radiological
  • the principles of an HERCA approach  in emergencies (earlier "top-down" approach) based on the recognition of the "national" differences, the sharing of resources, confidence and the alignment of decisions between the different countries;  a Road Map for the implementation of such approach in under development in collaboration with WENRA.
  • a practical guide in the field of emergency situation preparedness on the practicability of the protection actions (sheltering, evacuation, ingestion of stable iodine tablets);
  • a joint statement following the Fukushima accident reaffirming in particular the strong need for a common understanding and approach in the field of emergency planning in Europe and the need to draw the short- and long-term lessons from this accident[3].

In other fields

  • a dosimetric passport model, the content of which has been integrated in the proposed new Euratom European Directive setting out the basic standards for health protection against the dangers arising from exposure ionising radiation.
  • a provisional statement in favour of European-wide harmonisation of the radiation protection regulations relative to lamps containing small quantities of radioactive substances.

External relations and stakeholder involvement

HERCA has developed numerous relations with other radiation protection stakeholders, formalised to varying degrees. It has signed a collaboration agreement with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is the US equivalent of the French ANSM (National Agency for Medicines and Health Products Safety), it has a special status for relations with the US National Council of Radiation Protection and measurements (NCRP) and an Spacial Liaison Organisation status with the ICRP. Representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) participate in the activities of the medical working group as observers. Several associations from the medical field in Europe (representing radiologists, technologists, nuclear technicians et physicians, medical physicists, scanner manufacturers, etc.) are associated with the initiatives of this working group. In 2012 collaboration in common areas was initiated with the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), as well as some thirty other stakeholders.



[1] This is because in certain countries, oversight of radiation protection is ensured by several authorities.

[2] The countries in question are Iceland, Switzerland and Norway.

[3] These lessons will be taken into account in the future work of HERCA in this area.In this respect, the "Emergency situation preparedness and management" working group has been given a new mandate that widens its scope.It now addresses not only accidents occurring in Europe but it will also define a common approach in the national management of nuclear emergencies occurring in distant locations.