Over the past two days the tension was high in emergency operations centres in around 60 States and 10 international organizations participating in the “Bab Al Maghrib” exercise to test their response to simulated dirty bomb attacks. The simulated “explosions” took place in the port of Tangier Med and Marrakech medina in Morocco. They ‘triggered’ a number of serious implications: “actual” for few States, “potential” for some and “perceived” for many. Issues addressed during the exercise were connected to a radioactive release into the atmosphere, medical response and public health, security, transparent public communications, industry and tourism and commerce, in particular import and export of goods.
This exercise provided an excellent opportunity for the Emergency Response Organisation (ERO) of the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority (HAEA) to practice its 26-hour operation in case of a foreign nuclear emergency, giving independent assessments about the local implications of the incident, as well as providing accurate and up-to-date information to Hungarian citizens and formulate recommendations on behaviour for Hungarian citizens staying in the effected areas. The organisation adequately complied with its obligations stated in RESPEC Contract and effectively supported the work of the Emergency Centre of EC ENER D.3. Through the exercise the HAEA ERO was proved to meet its responsibilities described in laws and international treaties. Some immediate conclusions were drawn: the collaboration of security and safety authorities in States needs to be improved and communication with the public has to be transparent, objective and easily understandable while protecting sensitive information – a challenging balance to achieve. In the coming weeks, feedback from participating Member States and international organizations will be compiled by the IAEA and become part of a comprehensive report to be used to strengthen national and international preparedness to respond to similar emergencies. Though the lessons emerging from the “Bab Al Maghrib” exercise are based on the response to simulated dirty bomb explosions, many are also applicable to other types of nuclear and radiological emergencies. For further information, please contact: Gábor Körmendi communication specialist (mobile: +36-20/560-0984). E-mail: szerkeszto kukac haea pont gov pont hu Phone: +36 (1) 436-4800 Fax: +36 (1) 436-4843