Emergency Management and the EPA  

Emergencies occur all the time but require different responses from different organisations depending on the size and scale of the emergency.  

On this page we will talk about:  

Major emergencies 

Major emergencies need a national response and will usually involve several government departments and agencies. For such emergencies the response is co-ordinated by the lead Government department with responsibility for responding to that emergency type.  The Strategic Emergency Management – National Structure and Framework sets out how national responses are managed and who needs to be involved in them.    

This framework defines a major emergency as: 

“An event which, usually with little or no warning, causes or threatens to cause death, serious injury, serious disruption to essential services, the economy or critical infrastructure, significant damage to property or the environment, and which requires the activation of national resources to ensure an effective coordinated response and recovery.” (Strategic Emergency Management - National Structures and Framework Dept of Defence 2017) 

The framework identified fifty national-level emergency types. The EPA has a role to play in twelve of them. These are:  

  • Storms 
  • Flooding 
  • Environmental contamination 
  • Oil spill 
  • High temperatures and drought 
  • Low temperatures and snow 
  • Volcanic eruption 
  • Fire 
  • Drinking water contamination 
  • Food and feed contamination 
  • Animal disease 
  • Chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incident


The EPA’s Emergency Response Framework 

The EPA has an Emergency Response Framework. This sets out the key elements of preparedness and response arrangements in the EPA. The framework includes a number of plans which are designed to be used by individual EPA teams for dealing with emergencies in theiwork areas 

In line with best emergency planning practice, the EPA’s Emergency Response Framework and the plans within it, are regularly exercised and reviewed. 


EPA Licensees in an emergency

Some emergencies are handled locally, at site level. EPA licensees are required to have emergency plans to assist them in responding to such emergencies. Support may be provided by emergency services (An Garda Síochána, Fire Service, Ambulance, and Coast Guard) and will often involve local authorities. 

To see how the EPA is prepared for a radiation emergency please visit our Planning for a Nuclear or Radiological Emergency in Ireland page

  • For further information on emergency planning for EPA licensees please visit our section on Emergency Planning for Licensees
  • For further information on strategic emergency management on a national scale, take a look at the Emergency Planning pages managed by the Office of Emergency Planning. 

Further information and frequently asked questions

For further information, please visit our Radiation Emergencies FAQs page