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Opening remarks by Ramzi Jammal at the IAEA International conference on Global Emergency Preparedness and Response

International Conference on Global Emergency Preparedness and Response

Monday, October 19, 2015

Vienna, Austria

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this IAEA International Conference on Global Emergency Preparedness and Response. It is an honour for me to serve as President of this important conference. I am pleased to see that it has attracted a very high level of interest and participation. This reflects the importance of emergency management for the international community, which encompasses, among other things, preparedness for, response to and recovery from a nuclear or radiological emergency.

As President of this conference, I have read every abstract that was submitted and accepted by the IAEA. I am very impressed with the quality of the submissions. However, I am disappointed that the World Association of Nuclear Operators has no representation.

During this week, you will have an opportunity to contribute to the discussion on the conference themes, taking into account past experiences and determining the way forward and priorities. These themes, under emergency management and its pillars, are: protection strategies; communications; public health and medical response; international cooperation; and education and training. I personally think it should be emphasized, as an outcome of this conference, that recovery should be based on health effects and not epidemiological studies. In addition, this conference should provide direction to the IAEA to develop and publish a short information document that can be easily used by politicians to improve decision making while under pressure during a nuclear or radiological emergency. It is important to educate all stakeholders that the 1 mSv/y public dose is not to be used as an indicator of a safe or unsafe health limit.

There is no doubt that an efficient response to an emergency requires effective emergency preparedness, including up-to-date, robust arrangements and knowledgeable and trained responders.

Since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in Japan in March 2011, significant efforts have been invested in reviewing and further strengthening emergency preparedness and response. Many national and international activities have been carried out in conjunction with the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety. The recently published IAEA report and the Director General’s summary report on the Fukushima Daiichi accident provided several observations and lessons for governments, regulators and nuclear operators throughout the world in various areas, including emergency preparedness, response and recovery. There is a need to address the planning for severe emergencies to include those involving several units at a multi-unit plant, so that, in the unlikely event of such an emergency, a stop can be put to the progression of events that may be occurring at the same time.

This, among other things, means a compelling need for clarity on the roles and responsibilities of regulators and all levels of government.

In addition, the establishment of clear, unambiguous criteria for decision making on protection of the public and emergency workers must be based on factual information as it relates to the risks of radiation exposure and the attribution of health effects to radiation. Communication with all stakeholders in an emergency is also identified as an important area requiring high attention. It plays a key role in protecting the public’s health. It is therefore important for all of us that we build and maintain trust and credibility well before any emergency might occur. This conference provides an opportunity to develop messages to be conveyed to the public and all relevant stakeholders about the current status of emergency preparedness and response and the way forward.

Emergency preparedness, response and recovery are critically linked; hence, efficient implementation is a must in any emergency irrespective of its cause – whether it is a natural disaster, human error, mechanical or other failure, or a nuclear security event. When it comes to any emergency, the objectives of the response are to protect human life and health, and the environment. These objectives are what safety and security measures have in common, hence the need for continuous discussion about their integration during an emergency.
All these topics are part of the conference program, so you can see that we have a busy and interesting program ahead of us. I would like to encourage you to share your views and experience throughout the conference, discuss the current status of emergency preparedness and response at the national and international levels, and provide your assessment on where to go from here. We look forward to your contribution, which will provide an input to the outcome of our conference.

Finally, I appreciate the opportunity to be part of this important event, which I am sure will contribute to our efforts to further strengthen emergency preparedness, response and recovery worldwide. I look forward to a very interesting and productive week.

It is now my pleasure to invite the Director General of the IAEA, Mr. Amano, to deliver his opening remarks.

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