Highlights from the 81st meeting of the NEA Committee on Radiological Protection and Public Health

CRPPH meeting

The NEA Committee on Radiological Protection and Public Health (CRPPH) held its annual meeting on 4-6 April 2023 at the NEA premises in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, the first to be held in person since 2020.

The meeting brought together about 70 delegates from 22 member countries, 11 international organisations and associations, and invitees from the People’s Republic of China and Ukraine.

The committee welcomed and endorsed the main outcomes to be achieved by the end of 2023, as follows:

  • The preparation of the INEX-6 international exercise, noting the progress made towards this first-of-a-kind exercise, which will be entirely dedicated to long-term recovery after a nuclear accident. The exercise will be run in January – March 2024 and will attract more than 1 000 participants. So far, 26 countries, territories and international organisations have officially registered to participate in the exercise.
  • For the first time, the CRPPH, mainly through the work of an ad-hoc group of experts from the Working Party on Nuclear Emergency Matters, will publish a Practical Guide for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies. This is an essential step forward in providing countries with guidance on how to integrate mental health and psychosocial support into protective actions in all phases of an emergency, namely preparedness, response and recovery. Although post-accident non-radiological health impacts have been identified as a high priority area of focus, this will be the first comprehensive practical guidance to fully address this topic.
  • The Third Stakeholder Involvement Workshop on Optimisation in Decision Making is now planned on 5-7 September 2023 in Paris; while this topic is a cross-cutting issue in the nuclear sector, it has particular resonance for the CRPPH, which has been at the forefront of stakeholder involvement and optimisation for decades.

During one of the topical sessions, the committee was briefed by an invited keynote speaker from the Ukrainian nuclear safety authority (SNRIU) who described the difficulties and challenges raised by the situation in Ukraine. The committee strongly supported the idea of a dedicated workshop by the end of 2023, hosted by the Norwegian nuclear safety authority (DSA) and co-organised with the NEA, to explore the operational lessons and practices of managing radiological protection in situations of armed conflict. The event should help countries and international organisations gain experience and become better prepared to regulate and implement operational radiological protection during and after conflict situations. It would cover a variety of topics such as emergency preparedness, response and recovery, environmental monitoring systems, stakeholder engagement and public communication.

Another session, organised by the Task Force on radiological protection challenges associated with the deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs), allowed the committee to discuss challenges identified by the Task Force and to identify potential priorities. In view of the various activities on SMRs already underway at the NEA and other international organisations, the committee decided to extend the Task Force for one year to identify where radiological protection issues can be integrated into existing working groups and where they are specific to the CRPPH.

The delegates also discussed and endorsed the plan of the Expert Group on Post-accident Food Safety Framework (EGFSF) to propose an NEA strategy for the medium- and long-term food safety management to promote consumer trust and facilitate international trade. This includes, in a second phase, an analysis of the legal aspects of its implementation at the international and national levels. The first strategic outline should be discussed in detail at the next CRPPH annual meeting.

The CRPPH will gather for its next annual meeting on 26-28 March 2024, once again in person at the NEA premises.

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