Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik

Best practices and lessons learned in preparing and implementing an effective public communication strategy during a nuclear emergency

Dr. Gerhard Wotawa, M.A. (Intern. Rel.)
ZAMG/Division Data, Methods and Modelling Emergency Manager of ZAMG for Fukushima Crisis Gerhard.Wotawa@zamg.ac.at

Presented at: IAEA International Experts’ Meeting , Vienna, 19 June 2012

Topics

20.06.2012 Page 2

• Basic principles of dealing with an accident of emergency
• Lessons learned from the Fukushima crisis • Ways forward

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Basic Principles

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In the world of the 21st Century, anything serious happening in any part of the world does matter for all other countries, and for the whole international community
• This is certainly true for all events having potential health impact • The radius of impact does not matter. A transboundary nature of the event is not required • Effective communication at regional, national and international level indispensable part of response

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What was done in Austria?

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• Transport of Radioactivity over Japan calculated and published
• Daily meteorological assessments for crisis region published • Radionuclide Data from CTBTO used for situation assessment and useful data published • Source term estimate performed and published • At request of WMO, provided on-site support for IAEA at IEC

• As part of WMO, took part in the international coordination process after accident

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Transport of radionuclides

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• Transport towards Tokyo area (March 14/15) predicted
• Arrival of plume at U.S. West Coast (17/18 March) predicted

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Source estimate

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• As first institution, ZAMG published a source estimate of radionuclides released in Fukushima (22 March 2012)
• The source estimate was based on a few CTBTO measurements, but accurate within a factor of 5

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Lessons learned

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• ZAMG results were widely accessed (large download volume from Japan and USA) • Publication did not cause adverse effects, but rather helped filling information gaps • Significance of CTBT was demonstrated

• New form of cooperation between international organizations established
• Importance of internal information provision and exchange demonstrated (e.g., regarding travel advisories)

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Consequences of missing information

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• Rumors develop, particularly through social networks

• Mistrust and exaggerated fear
• Non-governmental actors fill information gaps

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Ways forward

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• Rapid assessment of nature and severity of the accident

• Access to detailed information for non-accident states
• Emergency procedures should include communication with other governments and international organizations • Include public information and communication in the emergency planning phase

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Ways forward (2)

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• Fast and open access to all relevant information for NGOs and the general (global) public • Globally harmonized radionuclide measurements and emergency database • Strengthen role of the IAEA during crisis situation

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