IAEA - International Atomic Energy Agency

12/18/2020 | Press release | Archived content

From Exercise to Reality: IAEA, Finland Respond to Nuclear Power Plant Event One Day After Emergency Exercise

When your job is responding to emergencies, then exercises are routine. On 9 December, emergency responders from the IAEA responded to a simulated event at the Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant in Finland. Then, less than 24 hours later, the IAEA's Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC) was notified that a real event was taking place at the same power plant.

Guenther Winkler was the IAEA's on-call Emergency Response Manager that day. 'I spent a few seconds thinking it was a mistake, but Finland was clear in their message that this was no longer part of the exercise.'

The exercise held on 9 December was part of the IEC's annual calendar of exercises, performed in cooperation with designated national authorities from around the world. These exercises are aimed to review emergency response arrangements, provide practice and further improvements through lessons learned. 'The next morning, when the real event occurred, the IEC activated into emergency response mode and we wasted no time in applying the same procedures we had tested just one day prior,' added Winkler.

As it later became clear, the event posed no danger to the safety of people or the environment at any point and radiation levels at the plant and surroundings remained at normal levels.