Emergency Exercise at SCK•CEN and Belgoprocess on 29 and 30 October

An emergency exercise in which a nuclear incident will be simulated will be organised on 29 and 30 October 2015. The Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK•CEN) and Belgoprocess sites in Mol and Dessel are involved in this exercise. The purpose of the exercise is to test the procedures that are defined in the emergency and intervention plans. These procedures can then be adapted as appropriate on the basis of the assessments.

Why practice?

The exercise is organised in the context of the nuclear and radiological emergency plan for the territory of Belgium. The participants in the exercise are the federal, provincial and municipal governments, the emergency services and the operators of the nuclear facilities in Mol-Dessel.

The first day will focus on the acute phase, with the deployment of various actors in the field. In order to avoid any possible anxiety, the local population will be informed of the exercise in advance. The Home Affairs siren network will only be activated silently. The company sirens of the operator will effectively be activated.

On the second day, the focus will be on the aftercare, and the return to a normalised situation. This part of the exercise will take the form of a workshop. The measuring cell and the assessment cell will remain active with a view to collecting and analyzing radiological data.

Practising what?

The main focus of the exercise is on the first day, the emphasis lying mainly on the feasibility of the shelter measures and on the information flow between the relevant authorities at various levels. Participants will only be informed at the actual moment, in order to test the actual activation times.

The integrated provincial coordination committee, with representatives from the intervention services and the local authorities, will convene at the crisis centre in Dessel. The federal crisis centre is based in Brussels

About 90 students of the Heilig Graf Institute in Turnhout and the Artesis University College of Antwerp will participate in the exercise to make it as realistic as possible. The students will simulate the reaction from the public and the media. This will mainly be done through a contact centre and a closed (social) media platform, which will allow the government and the operator to target the specific information requirements of the simulated media and general public in their communications. 

One of the objectives of the exercise is to examine the extent to which the decisions that are made by the authorities, and the provision of information that is organised in this regard, are effective and are actually implemented by the population. For this purpose, several volunteers from the municipalities of Mol and Dessel will record where they were on the day of the exercise. Whether the communicated decisions were clear and would have been feasible will subsequently be assessed during a ‘sounding board group’ meeting on 16 November.

Testing to provide better protection

The purpose of this exercise (and the emergency planning in general) is to ensure that the emergency services and all potentially relevant actors can practice the effectiveness of the existing processes and mutual cooperation.

After the exercise, a thorough assessment will be made of the tested aspects, in order to adjust plans and procedures as necessary on the basis of the acquired experience. In this way, all relevant services will remain vigilant with regard to the continuous improvement of the preparation for actual incidents.

The initial impressions of the exercise will be communicated at the end of the first day.

Who is participating in the exercise?

The exercise is organized by the Federal Public Service Home Affairs (Directorate-General Crisis Centre), in cooperation with:

  • The Directorate-General for Civil Security,
  • The Federal Departments of the Governor of the Province of Antwerp, municipalities Mol and Dessel,
  • The Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) and its subsidiary Bel V,
  • Belgoprocess and the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK•CEN),
  • Relief disciplines (D1 – D5), including the fire brigade, medical emergency services, federal and local police forces, civil protection,
  • FPS Public Health and the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC),
  • Support centre 100,
  • Heilig Graf Institute, Turnhout and Artesis University College, Antwerp,
  • Safety Region Brabant-Zuidoost (the Netherlands).
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