In order to successfully implement the protective measures to be taken in the event of an accident, the personnel involved at all levels of crisis management must be adequately trained, qualified and prepared. Great importance is therefore attached to the training of these staff within and outside the facility.

Exercises scheduled by the operator

Exercises are carried out regularly in order to train, review and refine the measures scheduled by the nuclear power plant operator. To make the exercises as realistic as possible, every effort is made to ensure that the accident scenarios on which they are based are as detailed as possible. The scenarios for the exercises simulate events with multiple failure of safety systems and equipment which have the potential to cause major damage to fuel elements.

The exercises focus in detail on aspects such as:

  • internal and external alerting,
  • application and simultaneous review of the practicability of written operating procedures and, as far as possible, technical provisions,
  • detection and triggering of external alarms (early warning, emergency alert),
  • documentation of procedures,
  • measuring campaigns,
  • rescue of persons from controlled areas,
  • establishment of decontamination facilities,
  • set-up and work processes of the crisis management team,
  • public relations.

The exercises at the plants are as realistic as possible, with increasing use being made of nuclear power plant simulators.

The annual exercises are generally restricted to the power plant site. Exercises focusing on cooperation with the manufacturer’s crisis team, KHG (Kerntechnische Hilfsdienst GmbH) and the authorities responsible for off-site emergency planning are run at longer intervals.

Exercises by the authorities at national and international level

Section 102 of the Radiation Protection Act (StrlSchG) envisages regular emergency exercises with the participation of the federal and Länder authorities and organisations listed in the emergency response plans.

The disaster control authorities at federal state (Länder) and regional level perform large- scale emergency management exercises at nuclear power plant sites on a regular basis, at intervals of several years. In addition to the competent authorities and the professional advisory bodies, the plant operator also participates in these exercises. The active involvement of potentially affected members of the public in these exercises is not normally envisaged.

The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and, if necessary, other federal government ministries participate at irregular intervals in the emergency management exercises organised by the Länder. In addition, the BMU and the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) run exercises which focus on the Integrated Measuring and Information System for the Surveillance of Environmental Radioactivity (IMIS) and on communication with the Länder.

At international level, regular exercises are scheduled by the European Union - EU (ECURIE exercises), the OECD/NEA (INEX exercises) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (ConvEx exercises). The BMU and BfS generally participate in these exercises. Other federal ministries, support agencies and Länder authorities are also involved, depending on the situation and sphere of competence.

These exercises aim to improve communication and collaboration among the various authorities and organisations involved in emergency management and ensure effective coordination of short-term, medium-term and long-term measures.