Research Highlight:
ARL Provides Support for International Nuclear Emergency Response Exercise

An international nuclear emergency response exercise dubbed Conventional Exercises (or ConvEx-3) will take place on July 9 – 10 based on a hypothetical accident at Laguna Verde Nuclear Power Plant in Veracruz, Mexico. The World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Regional Specialized Meteorological Centers (RSMC) in Montreal Canada and Washington DC will produce atmospheric transport and dispersion products, which will predict the path of the hypothetical radioactive plume. RSMC Washington is a joint activity between ARL, which provides the transport and dispersion modeling research, and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, which provides the operational support. The exercise also will test the use of new password-protected web pages being developed by ARL for WMO member countries to access the model products.

RSMCs specializing in atmospheric transport modeling, upon official request, provide pollutant transport and dispersion forecasts to National Meteorological Services of WMO member countries and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the event of a nuclear accident. The IAEA coordinates the Inter-Agency Committee on Response to Nuclear Accidents (IACRNA), which is responsible for the Joint Radiation Emergency Management Plan of the International Organizations. The IACRNA’s Working Group on Coordination of International Exercises plans and evaluates the involvement of the International Organizations in exercises, primarily through a series of Convention Exercises (or ConvEx). ConvEx-3 exercises are conducted once every 4 or 5 years. The last exercise involved an accident in Romania. For that location RSMC’s Exeter (United Kingdom) and Toulouse (France) provided the atmospheric transport and dispersion modeling.

A nuclear accident, such as occurred at Chernobyl, would have large potential health and economic implications. Understanding where radioactive substances will go is important for mitigating those risks. The ConvEx-3 is the most comprehensive class of international exercises under the International Conventions that tests the responsibilities and arrangements of International Organizations for nuclear accidents and radiological emergencies. The exercises ultimately improve the efficiency and effectiveness of nuclear emergency planning, preparedness, and management. This exercise will provide an opportunity to identify shortcomings in the national and/or international information exchange and response systems that might hamper the response to a nuclear accident. ARL’s web pages will allow the RSMC to expand the number and type of products that can be provided quickly, including products at higher temporal and spatial scales.