Early Notification and Assistance Conventions

Convention on the Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and Convention on Assistance in a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency

Australia is a signatory to two Conventions that were developed after the Chernobyl Accident an to provide an international framework to facilitate the exchange of information and the prompt provision of assistance in the event of a nuclear or radiological emergency, with the aim of minimising the consequences. The Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident (the ‘Early Notification Convention’) and the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency (the ‘Assistance Convention’).

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has specific functions assigned to it under these Conventions, to which, in addition to a large number of countries, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are full parties. (http://www-ns.iaea.org/conventions/emergency.asp)

ARPANSA administers Australia's rights and obligations under these two Conventions. ARPANSA as the Australian Government Radiation Regulator is designated as the National Competent Authority for radiation emergencies occurring both domestically and overseas, which requires that the agency provides the link to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the event of an accident.

In 2005 the IAEA established an integrated Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC) as the global focal point for preparedness, event reporting, and response to nuclear and radiological incidents and emergencies irrespective of their cause.  (http://www-ns.iaea.org/tech-areas/emergency/incident-emergency-centre.asp ) In addition the IAEA has established a global  Response Assistance  Network (RANET) of teams qualified to respond rapidly to nuclear accidents or radiological emergencies.

The Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident

The Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident was ratified by Australia on 23 October 1987. The Convention aims to strengthen international co-operation in order to provide relevant information about nuclear accidents as early as necessary in order that transboundary radiological consequences can be minimised. States Party commit that, in the event of a nuclear accident that may have transboundary radiological consequences, they will notify countries that may be affected and the IAEA, and provide relevant information on the development of the accident The IAEA in turn forthwith informs States Parties, Member States, other States that may be physically affected and relevant international organisations of a notification received and promptly provides other information on request.

Each State Party and the Agency have identified 24-hour warning points to which a notification can be directed, as well as competent authorities who are authorised to send notifications and verify information provided. The Agency maintains an up-to-date list of such authorities and warning points and provides it to States Parties, Member States and relevant international organisations.

The Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency

The Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency was ratified by Australia on 23 October 1987. The Convention requires that States Parties cooperate between themselves and with the IAEA to facilitate prompt assistance in the event of a nuclear accident or radiological emergency to minimise its consequences and to protect life, property and the environment from the effects of radioactive releases.

The IAEA is charged with using its best endeavours to promote, facilitate and support the cooperation between the States Parties. In the event of a nuclear accident or radiological emergency, the IAEA's functions are:

  • make available to a State Party or a Member State requesting assistance appropriate resources for the purpose of conducting an initial assessment of the accident
  • transmit requests for assistance and relevant information to States Parties that may possess the necessary resources
  • offer its good offices to the States Parties or Member States
  • liaise with relevant international organisations to obtain and exchange relevant information
  • on request, co-ordinate the assistance at the international level that becomes available.

Each State Party and the Agency have identified 24-hour warning points to which a request for assistance can be directed, as well as Competent Authorities who are authorised to send requests and to arrange for the provision of assistance. The Agency maintains an up-to-date list of such authorities and warning points and provides it to States Parties, Member States and relevant international organisations.