The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) also participates in nuclear emergency management at the international level. Two IAEA conventions and one European agreement are particularly noteworthy:
The aim of these agreements is to ensure that signatory states inform the IAEA and the EU about a nuclear accident or other radiological emergency as swiftly as possible. Early notification and the subsequent continuous provision of information about the progression of the emergency are intended to keep transboundary radiological effects to a minimum. The agreements also establish a legal framework to facilitate the rapid provision of assistance, albeit without creating any obligations in this regard.
These agreements are of practical relevance in any nuclear or other accident which leads to the actual or potential release of radioactive substances across international borders with radiological implications for the safety and security of another state. The BMU, as the National Competent Authority, is responsible for fulfilling Germany’s international information and reporting obligations.
In addition, the Federal Republic of Germany has signed bilateral intergovernmental agreements with a number of neighbouring countries on radiation protection and emergency planning. These agreements define the direct notification procedures and practical arrangements, going beyond the international agreements in that they also provide for a general institutionalised exchange of experience about the safe operation of nuclear installations. The bilateral agreements and arrangements with neighbouring countries particularly concern nuclear facilities located near the borders and facilitate faster information-sharing when accidents occur.
The Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS), adopted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), requires each Contracting Party to submit regular reports (national CNS reports) on the measures it has taken regarding nuclear safety. Article 16 of the Convention requires Contracting Parties to establish national systems of emergency planning and response, which must also be covered in the report.
Some national CNS reports are made available to the public.
In order to harmonise and maintain a sufficiently high standard of nuclear emergency preparedness at the international level, representatives of the BMU and other German authorities contribute to the work of the following institutions/agencies:
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),
- OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA),
- International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),
- European Union (EU),
- Working Group on Emergencies (WGE) set up by the Heads of the European Radiological Protection Competent Authorities (HERCA), and
- bilateral commissions with neighbour countries.