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Opinions & Interviews

12 Oct 2017

Virtually impossible scenario in radiation accident response exercise in Belarus

Virtually impossible scenario in radiation accident response exercise in Belarus

MINSK, 12 October (BelTA) – The command staff exercise, which is meant to practice responding to radiation accidents on 18-19 October, deliberately relies on a virtually impossible scenario, BelTA learned from Dmitry Mironchik, Head of the Information Office, Press Secretary of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to the source, participants of the exercise will practice taking preventive and protective measures in response to accidents at nuclear installations and facilities with radiation hazards in Belarus and abroad.

According to Dmitry Mironchik, there are accidents beyond the design basis of nuclear power plants and there are accidents nuclear power plants are designed to survive. The Belarusian nuclear power plant is supposed to contain radioactive substances after an accident within the design. Nevertheless, in line with modern international approaches countries are supposed to be ready to respond to accidents beyond the design basis. With this in mind the concept of the forthcoming exercise is built around a virtually impossible scenario, featuring the release of radioactive substances and a sequence of events unaccounted for by the nuclear power plant’s design.

The Belarusian Emergencies Ministry has already noted that the exercise is designed to test the readiness of the national response system and adapt the national plan on protecting the population and territories from emergencies. A number of other matters will be closely studied, including interaction with neighboring countries and international organizations, said Dmitry Mironchik.

Representatives of competent agencies of all the neighbor states, a number of international organizations, including the IAEA and CSTO, and foreign diplomats in Belarus, have been invited to observe the radiation accident response exercise. By arranging the exercise, Belarus acts in strict compliance with the IAEA recommendations and acts on the belief that safety is the top priority in the course of implementing the national nuclear energy program, stressed the press secretary.

BelTA reported earlier that assets and units of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry and other government agencies will be employed for the exercise — a total of 274 personnel and 24 vehicles. The Belarusian Defense Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Energy Ministry, and the Healthcare Ministry will take an active part in the exercise. In line with the scenario of the exercise Belarusian fire fighters will have to extinguish a fire at a transformer substation in a radiation polluted area and in reservoirs that store light oil products and hazardous chemicals. Belarusian rescue workers will also have to deal with consequences of a radiation accident on the railroad and with forest fires in radiation-polluted areas. Apart from that, the state system for warning about and dealing with emergencies and the civil defense system will be tested in the course of top-priority emergency response actions.

The external contingence plan of the Belarusian nuclear power plant will be adjusted and polished as a result of the exercise.

Practical actions of the command staff exercise on responding to radiation accidents will take place in various areas of the country and at two border checkpoints. The active phase of the exercise is supposed to take place in Ostrovets District, Grodno Oblast on 19 October.


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