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18 Oct 2017

Radiation accident response exercise begins in Belarus

MINSK, 18 October (BelTA) – A command staff exercise has begun in Belarus to practice responding to radiation accidents, BelTA has learned.

The exercise began with a session of the Emergencies Commission under the Council of Ministers. The session chaired by Prime Minister of Belarus Andrei Kobyakov took place at the national center for control and response to emergencies of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry. Central government agencies, municipal government agencies informed those present how they had been responding to the situations they were presented with at 9:00.

The prime minister noted that it is a planned exercise and is taking place in line with the international commitments undertaken by countries that are about to commission major nuclear energy installations. The purpose of the exercise is to check the readiness of the rapid response system, which is crucial for working out plans for responding to emergencies outside the Belarusian nuclear power plant site among other things.

Andrei Kobyakov said: “In Belarus a lot of attention is paid to safety matters in the construction and consequent operation of the nuclear power plant. The nuclear power plant will get the first fuel assemblies next year while the first power-generating unit is scheduled to go online in 2019. Recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency in the sphere of nuclear and radiation safety have been fulfilled in full. In line with the organization’s safety standards a plan of protection measures in case of a radiation accident at the Belarusian nuclear power plant has been drafted. It is an external emergency plan. It will be put to test during the current command staff exercise.”

The prime minister stressed that the radiation accident response exercise relies on a virtually impossible scenario of how events may unfold at the Belarusian nuclear power plant. “A large number of matters will be closely looked at in the course of the exercise, in particular, interaction with neighboring countries and international organizations, the operation of crisis centers for implementing managerial decisions,” said Andrei Kobyakov.

By staging the exercise, Belarus acts in strict compliance with recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency, bearing in mind that safety is the top priority in implementing the national nuclear energy program. “As far as nuclear and radiation safety is concerned, the Republic of Belarus pursues an open policy in strict compliance with international requirements. We are ready for interaction with interested nations in this sphere,” stressed the prime minister.

The session of the Emergencies Commission under the Council of Ministers focused on organizing the monitoring and forecasting of the radiation situation, on ways to ensure the stable operation of the national power grid when power-generating facilities go offline, on medical protection of people, sanitary oversight, the operation of Belarusian agriculture in conditions of radiation pollution, control over the quality of agricultural products.

Since several nuclear power plants are located near the Belarusian border, responses to radiation accidents will be practiced in many areas of the country. The oblast administrations presented their reports on how they had been dealing with the situation.

During the session of the Emergencies Commission under the Council of Ministers instructions were given on responding to the current situation. At the end of the exercise all the participants will have to submit proposals on improving protection measures to the Emergencies Ministry while the ministry may have to revise the plan of protection measures in response to a possible radiation accident at the Belarusian nuclear power plant and forward it for approval to the Council of Ministers.

The exercise to practice responding to radiation accidents is taking place in various parts of Belarus on 18-19 October. Command and control organizations and assets of the national system for preventing and dealing with consequences of emergencies are taking part in the exercise. In line with international recommendations countries, which are about to commission major nuclear energy installations, are supposed to arrange a series of exercises to practice their responses to possible accidents.

 

 

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