Seminar on cross-border coordination of means of protection of populations in the event of a nuclear accident

"In the event of a nuclear accident: ensuring coordinated and coherent cross-border management for the protection of the population!"

Organised jointly by the Department for Radiation Protection of the National Health Directorate and the High Commission for National Protection, a seminar on cross-border coordination of protective actions during the first phase of a nuclear accident using the HERCA-WENRA 1 approach was held on 6 July 2017 at Senningen Castle.

Given the proximity of the Cattenom nuclear power plant, the HERCA-WENRA approach is an obvious challenge for the surrounding area. This approach was adopted by the European nuclear safety and radiation protection authorities in October 2014.In the event of an accident, it aims at promoting the rapid transmission of information between the countries concerned and the consistency of the recommendations issued by the radiation protection and safety authorities for the protection of populations. A key principle is that, for the emergency phase, the neighbouring countries agree on the same protective measures.

"Although it is not possible to envisage all eventualities in the event of a nuclear accident, we have an obligation to protect our populations and to develop coordinated and coherent crisis management in this regard," stressed the Minister of Health in her introductory address.

The seminar, attended by 54 high-level representatives, brought together decision-makers in crisis management and nuclear experts from the Greater Region, France, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Indeed, the Cattenom site is the only nuclear site in Europe that is close, not only to one but to several neighbouring countries. Germany and Luxembourg are about 10 km away and Belgium is at a distance of 25 km.

"Such a configuration obviously adds an additional complexity compared to a purely bilateral situation. Any crisis coordination is therefore inevitably more difficult to implement," explained Lydia Mutsch.

In this regard, discussions focused essentially on ways to further improve the mechanisms for cross-border consultation and cooperation in crisis management, while increasing the protection of populations in the event of a nuclear accident.

Faced with the problems the countries of the Greater Region have to tackle in particular, the Minister welcomed the good collaboration in the past with the partners and the great number of efforts already made to allow an exchange between the countries of the cross-border region.

"I would like to point out that important progress is now to be observed, such as the setting up of the information exchange system (SELCA), the exchange of liaison officers during the activation of the crisis cells, the setting up of the cross-border working group and the bilateral commissions", concluded Lydia Mutsch.


1 The HERCA-WENRA approach was developed as of 2011 by a working group chaired by Luxembourg.

HERCA is a voluntary association in which the heads of radiation protection authorities work together to identify common problems and propose practical solutions for these issues.

Its current fields of activity include, in particular, medical   and veterinary applications of ionising radiation, radiological emergency preparedness and response, radon and natural radioactive materials.

HERCA's work programme is based on important regulatory issues of common interest.

HERCA brings together 56 radiation protection authorities from 32 European countries.

These authorities develop national legal frameworks for the use of ionising radiation and carry out inspections to ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.

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