From August 19-22, 2019, the United States (US) Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) International Regulatory Development Partnership (IRDP) conducted a workshop on “Research and Test Reactor Emergency Preparedness (EP)” in Bangkok, Thailand. The workshop was hosted by the Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP). The audience included nuclear regulatory staff whose responsibilities encompass various aspects of research reactor oversight related to environmental monitoring, nuclear safety, safeguards, radiation protection, and license review.
IRDP instructors, Mr. Rich Holm and Dr. Steve Reese, provided instruction on the NRC’s approach to emergency preparedness at a typical Research and Test Reactor (RTR), including references to specific NRC guidance documents. Participants were first provided background on radiation physics, dose assessment, and RTR siting characteristics, which can relate to radiological emissions analysis during an emergency. The instructors then discussed the current regulatory framework for RTR EP, emergency classification, information contained in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Protective Action Guide Manual, expectations for exercises and drills, as well as review of a sample emergency plan and supporting implementing procedures. Mr. Holm and Dr. Reese also provided a discussion on the similarities and differences between the NRC and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approach to RTR EP. In addition, the instructors facilitated an interactive table-top exercise toward the end of the workshop, where each participant assumed the role of a different emergency agency or organization including the regulatory body, the operator, the fire department, the police department, a public information officer, the general public, radiation protection officials, ambulance medics, and the hospital. This exercise very effectively illustrated the complexity of handling an emergency.
The participants were highly engaged throughout the week and asked many questions relevant to their job responsibilities and country-specific regulatory processes, resulting in a very informative and successful workshop.