A nuclear emergency response drill involving a shipment of radioactive materials between the FBFC plant in Romans-sur-Isère in southeastern France and the port of Antwerp in northwestern Belgium was carried out on April 2. The scenario was based on a fictional collision, followed by a fire, between a truck carrying containers of enriched uranium hexafluoride and a tanker truck on the border of France and Belgium. The drill was designed primarily to test relations between the authorities in the two countries and to coordinate local resources. It will serve as the basis for a larger-scale field exercise to be organized in the near future.
Carried out as part of the project called “Innovative integrative tools and platforms to be prepared for radiological emergencies and post-accident response in Europe” (PREPARE), a project designed to develop emergency response management tools funded by the European Commission and performed with IRSN's involvement, the drill was unique in that it involved testing the relations of two bordering countries, Belgium and France, in a nuclear emergency situation. Based at the IRSN Technical Center for Emergency Response near Paris, the drill brought together some thirty people from the FANC (Belgian Federal Agency for Nuclear Control) and ASN (the competent authorities of Belgium and France), their respective technical safety organizations (Bel V for Belgium and IRSN for France), and the French carrier TN International.
The principal purpose of the exercise was to test relations between the authorities and their coordination of local resources, and secondly to identify necessary improvements, both in terms of the formal relations between the authorities and technical support organizations and in terms of coordinating local resources. IRSN, ASN, FANC, Bel V and TNI are planning to hold another field exercise on a larger scale in the near future.