Since its creation, HERCA identified the need for a harmonised approach on Emergency Preparedness and Response (EP&R) in Europe as a top priority. The events at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP in March 2011 dramatically illustrated that similar needs for a common understanding and approach also exist for accidents happening at great distance from Europe. The work of HERCA in the field of EP&R started in 2008 whereas the current Working Group on Emergencies (WGE) was set up in 2011.

The mandate of the WGE was to come up with practical and operational solutions leading to a uniform way of dealing with any serious radiological emergency situation, regardless of national border lines. Its aim is to develop a comprehensive approach to harmonisation, not only limited to agreement on individual parameters and concepts, such us reference levels. The final goal of the exercise is to obtain a uniform cross border application of countermeasures, thereby supporting public credibility in the authorities’ recommendations and acceptance thereof.

On top of the many actions undertaken by IAEA, WHO, NEA and the EC, further harmonisation efforts are needed with regard to recommendations to citizens who reside in the vicinity of the accident site, to people arriving at (air)ports with luggage, goods, foodstuffs, etc.. The evaluation of the radiological impact, the sharing of information and, last but not least, the streamline of the communication efforts are of upmost importance.

Current Activities

The mandate of the WGE address issues of common interest of importance for a good and trustful EP&R. The mandate is approved by the HERCA Board. Current activities refer to the development of tools for a successful implementation of the HERCA-WENRA approach (c.f. below) and the transposition and implementation of the Directive 2013/59/Euratom (Euratom BSS).Actually, the following issues are treated:

  • Elaboration of a guidance document for bilateral agreements
  • Elaboration of “Country fact-sheets” on national EP&R
  • Assessment and Prognosis in Response to an Emergency at a Nuclear Power Plant.
  • Development of a common understanding of the provisions related to emergency workers
  • Development of a common understanding of the concept of reference levels concerning EP&R
  • Contamination of non-food products
  • Follow-up of the implementation status in HERCA countries of the measures for distant accidents proposed in the HERCA report “Practical proposals for further harmonisation of the reactions in European countries to any distant nuclear or radiological emergency”.

Major Achievements

HERCA has already achieved concrete, practical and operational results towards a better coordination of EP&R in Europe:

  • In 2014, HERCA and WENRA (Western European Nuclear Regulators Association) agreed on an Integrated/Common “HERCA-WENRA Approach for better cross-border coordination of protective actions during the early phase of a nuclear accident”. The paper presents the general mechanism for a common European EPR approach on coordination, which is independent of the type of accident. It also includes a simplified scheme for coordination in the highly unlikely event of a severe accident in one or more nuclear power plants, requiring rapid decisions for protective actions while little or no confirmed information is available. The HERCA-WENRA-Approach has the potential to improve the coherence of the response in case of a nuclear accident with impact on territories of other countries. National EP&R arrangements are respected and taken into account. It can be used as guidance to implement Article 99.1 and 99.2 of the Euratom-BSS.For more information:

For more information: New European Approach for cross-border Emergency Preparedness

For more information: Practical proposals for further harmonisation of the reactions in European countries to any distant nuclear or radiological emergency

  • In 2011, HERCA has produced a practical guidance that covers the definition, the aim and the rationale of three early countermeasures:  sheltering, evacuation and thyroid blockade. The guidance covers the planning phase, the intervention and lifting of the protective actions. The limitation and possible complication of the actions are discussed as well as risk/benefit consideration and linked actions. Also, the tasks of the authorities are clearly indicated.

For more information: Practical Guidance – Practicability of Early Protective Actions