Preparing for emergencies at nuclear facilities new ISO Standard

Issue 34 – December 2011

If a nuclear emergency occurs at nuclear facilities it is essential to respond as quickly as possible, but more importantly, to have prepared an emergency response. Nuclear criticality safety – Emergency preparedness and response ISO 11320:2011 provides criteria to respond to a nuclear emergency.

'At nuclear facilities, safety and anticipation are priorities,' says Neal Harris, ISO11320 Project Leader, and Calvin Hopper, Working Group Convener. 'ISO 11320 provides criteria for emergency preparedness and response to minimise consequences due to a nuclear criticality accident.'

Safety programmes are primarily directed at avoiding nuclear criticality accidents. However, the possibility of such accidents exists and the consequences can be life-threatening. For facilities that are judged to have a credible criticality accident risk, this necessitates advance planning, practice in planned emergency responses, and verification of readiness. Two distinct phases are identified.

  • The emergency preparedness phase, that needs to be enforced continuously.
  • The emergency response phase that needs only to be activated when it is indicated that a criticality accident could be developing, could be occurring, or could have occurred.

ISO 11320 outlines how to establish and implement actions to reduce the consequences of a nuclear criticality accident that could impact on human health and safety, quality of life, property, and the environment. This Standard applies to a site with one or more facilities that might contain significant quantities and concentrations of fissile material. The extent to which this Standard needs to be applied depends on the overall criticality risk presented by the facilities at the site.

Published in international.