What to do in a radiation emergency
Intervention planning for licensees
The types of emergencies that licensees may have to plan for include:
A radiation emergency is an event which could expose members of the public, workers, or the emergency services to abnormal levels of ionising radiation.
The following general advice covers all emergencies:
All licensees should have an emergency procedure which forms part of a radiation safety manual. In certain circumstances, the EPA may direct you to prepare an intervention plan.
The following specific advice covers all emergencies:
Immediately notify the EPA, the emergency services and the relevant local authority as appropriate. Include, where possible, details of:
Make an immediate, provisional assessment of the circumstances of the emergency, and its possible consequences. Submit the assessment in writing to the EPA Office of Radiological Protection as soon as possible, but not later than 24 hours from the start of the emergency.
Organisations operating irradiating equipment or handling radioactive materials should already have procedures in place for dealing with an emergency. The procedure will vary depending upon the specific circumstances of the licensee.
The first priority in an emergency situation is to provide medical assistance to any person with serious or life threatening injuries.
Immediately monitor anyone who may be contaminated, and make appropriate arrangements for their decontamination. Wash contaminated parts of the body thoroughly under medical supervision. Irrigate contaminated wounds with water or saline solution, taking care to ensure there is no spread of contamination to other areas of skin. Provide first aid treatment as appropriate.
Restrict access to the contaminated area until radiation levels are safe. Those requiring access to carry out emergency procedures should wear protective clothing which should be removed when they leave the affected area. All personnel entering contaminated areas should be monitored for radiation dose.
When the emergency is under control and all personnel have been attended to, the area must be decontaminated under the supervision of trained personnel and/or the EPA.