SCK•CEN opens new Emergency Planning Room


The day before yesterday, the Study Centre for Nuclear Energy (SCK•CEN) inaugurated the brand new, energy-efficient EME building, containing the renovated emergency planning room. About 60 people attended the official opening, among whom Frank Hardeman, Director-General at the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC).

Late 2018, the Study Centre for Nuclear Energy (SCK•CEN) completed the construction of the EME. “EME is short for EMergency, Medical & Measurement, a reference to the three departments housed in the building: the medical department, the low-radioactivity measurement department and the emergency planning room”, explains Eric van Walle, Director-General at SCK•CEN.

For this construction project, SCK•CEN did not rush into things. “In 2012, we started with drawing up an inventory of all needs and expectations of the different departments. This inventory would shape our original renovation plans for the existing building, but it didn’t take us long to abandon this idea. A new build was a better solution for an acute shortage of space on the one hand and the need for 

state-of-the-art installations on the other”, Eric explains. The medical department now has high-tech equipment and the labs of the low-radioactivitymeasurement department were fitted out with equipment. “The installation was attuned to the process flow: from sampling to analysis. We also focused in particular on the continuous monitoring of certain parameters such as oxygen, temperature, humidity and explosive atmosphere”, explains building coordinator Davy Dehaen (SCK•CEN).

Emergency planning room

However, the showpiece of the energy-efficient building is the emergency planning room. “In the emergency planning room, all players gather – in the event of an incident – to consult quickly, take measures and communicate. The periodic safety assessment revealed that the existing emergency planning room needed renovating”, says Fernand Vermeersch, head of the Internal Department for Prevention and Protection at Work. Unlike in the existing emergency planning room, the members of the crisis cell don’t sit in a large open-plan room anymore. The new emergency planning room is partitioned into different separate rooms. “This enables the members of the crisis cell to focus better, while still being physically close enough together to consult with each other quickly.” SCK•CEN organises regular drills in the emergency planning room.

“With the commissioning of this emergency planning room, SCK•CEN is taking an important step towards modernising their infrastructure for crisis management. Thanks to this infrastructure, SCK•CEN can also better meet their safety obligations in emergencies. This SCK•CEN investment is in line with the expectations of the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control, aimed at continuous improvement and investment in the safety of staff, the environment and local residents”, explains Frank Hardeman, Director-General at the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC). Wim Caeyers, Mayor of Mol, adds: “Reacting quickly and adequately in emergencies is a concern shared by SCK•CEN and all authorities, among which the municipal authorities. We are pleased that SCK•CEN is investing heavily in state-of-the-art installations that are necessary to monitor events in a professional manner after disasters. Communication with the outside world and coordination of the measures to be taken by the institute will also be conducted from the new emergency planning room. Such essential infrastructure must be up-to-date at all times and have all its required functionalities operational.”

Cutting the ribbon

On Tuesday 11th June, the official opening took place. Eric van Walle, Director-General at SCK•CEN, and Hildegarde Vandenhove, institute head of Environment, Health & Safety, kicked off the official opening ceremony by cutting the ribbon. Once inside,
a buffet and a drink was served to the attendees, who then went for a guided tour of the building.