The National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) in South Africa has announced that it will conduct a full scale nuclear safety regulatory emergency exercise to test the effectiveness of the Integrated Koeberg Nuclear Emergency Plan at South Africa’s and Africa’s only operating nuclear power plant.
During the exercise that is schedule for 22 October 2014, the NNR will evaluate and assess the integration and response arrangements of the various role-players in a simulated emergency scenario.
‘As the competent authority in South Africa, the NNR takes nuclear safety regulation very seriously and by conducting these regulatory emergency exercises, it helps us to sharpen our ability to respond to an emergency scenario as well as to further improve South Africa’s preparedness in the unlikely event of nuclear or radiological incidents and emergencies,’ stated the NNR’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Bismark Tyobeka.
Emergency exercises are periodically organised as training for emergency teams and to test resources and organisational structures with a view to identifying and strengthening any weak points. In accordance with sections 5 and 7 of the National Nuclear Regulator Act (Act No 47 of 1999) the NNR conducts regulatory emergency exercises at both the Koeberg and Pelindaba sites. Pelindaba is South Africa’s main Nuclear Research Centre, run by the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa).
The emergency preparedness exercise tests and evaluates the effectiveness of the emergency plan which also takes into account lessons learned from previous exercises and in-house drills.
Being prepared in the event of a nuclear or radiological emergency is an essential part of being a responsible nuclear safety regulator. The NNR oversees and ensures that nuclear activities are carried out with the two-fold aim of preventing accidents, but also of mitigating any consequences should they occur.
In accordance with the principles of defence in depth, the necessary steps must therefore be taken to deal with a radiological emergency, no matter how improbable. For this reason nuclear authorisation holders are required to maintain a comprehensive and effective nuclear emergency plan for dealing with potential risks arising from nuclear activities.