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Non nuclear - Development of operational arrangements 

(Draft guidelines submitted by RSMC Melbourne)



An attempt is made to delineate some of the essential operational arrangements necessary for a non-nuclear emergency response system in the NMHSs and RSMCs of WMO.

1. Introduction

The provision of an effective non-nuclear emergency response system is critically dependent on the operational arrangements in the NMHSs and RSMCs of WMO. These operational arrangements need to provide for a 24 hour/day real-time capacity. The response needs to be rapid, scientifically sound and technologically robust. It is emphasised that, although the response time is critical when considering human health and safety matters, a delicate balance needs to be maintained between accuracy and speed of response (Bacon 2000).

The non-nuclear capability needs to cover (in order of priority, according to Geneva ERA Workshop - December 2004):


. Chemical emergencies - which are more within the confines of the NMHSs (although there may be some cross-boundary incidents) featuring localised sources (eg chemical facility /plant, transport tankers) and associated limitations on total emissions;
. Wild-land Fires and the consequential smoke and haze problems - featuring, perhaps, numerous sources and consequences covering to cover the domains of many NMHSs;
and then (but not in priority order):
. Biological Emergencies - usually local but can be transboundary, includes the airborne transport of bacteria and viruses (eg FMD, bird flu, Blue Tongue, Aujeszky's disease), plague locusts, also bio-terror, featuring time-varying sources;
. Volcanic Eruptions - often transboundary ash and gas affecting aviation and ground population (fallout/deposition), usually a single source;
. Water Contamination/Pollution - resulting from atmospheric fallout or direct chemical discharge;
. Other (dust or sand storms) - area sources and long duration. 

2. General Issues

An initial consideration of some of the more general issues, involved in providing the operational basis for a non-nuclear emergency response system, can help in determining what arrangements should be put in place.

2.1 Determine any idiosyncrasies pertaining to the various types of non-nuclear environmental incidents.


. Source characteristics
. Longevity of incident
. Resolution of response systems required
. Remote sensing data - satellite, RADAR, lightning detection, in-situ

2.2 Determine/ Ascertain necessary interactions with Local, National and International Agencies.
. Extent of interaction: 


International: WHO, UNEP, OCHA, ICAO
National: EPAs, Agricultural and Chemical agencies.
Use of observational networks of other agencies (EPA AQ, CTBTO IMS)
Inter-agency conflict (EPAs,VAACs)

2.3 Determine what general facets should be covered by the non-nuclear emergency response system (monitoring, notification, response, products, briefings).

2.4 Ascertain the current capacity of NMHSs within each of the WMO areas: RAI,..., VI.


. Monitoring/Alert
. Hardware and Software
. NWP, Atmospheric and Water Transport Models
. Communications, product dissemination. 

2.5 Ascertain the need for, or extent of, RSMC support. Also, scope of RSMC support (eg resolution of response systems over domain of interest).

2.6 Identify areas for capacity building at NMHSs and RSMCs.


. Gaussian plume models
. NWP and ATM
. Hydrological Particle-tracer models
. Relocatable high-resolution models (deployment limitations)
. Ensemble models
. Probability products
. Coupling of products with established action levels for hazard-related decision making
. Areas of risk.

3. Approach

A comprehensive Emergency Response system consists of the integration of a number of phases, which are now listed.

3.1 Routine Observational Monitoring (for possible incidents)


. Collation and Interpretation - ongoing function.
. Observational Data Sources: remote sensing - satellite, RADAR, lightning detection, in-situ
Data Agencies: (NMHS,) EPA, CTBTO.
. Implications: maintenance of observing systems and communications.
. Awareness: fires - curing, chemical - transport (vehicular) movement

- ie maintain an Alert Watch.

3.2 Alerting/Notification/Warning (of incident)


. Initiation: result of 3.1, above, and/or media/public and agencies (authenticity checks).
. Source identification and characteristics - references (chemical data base - actual and alias names)
. Contacts.

3.3 Response (within NMHS and/or RSMC)


. Operator intervention 
- NWP/ATM, WTM - source input
- Product checking
- Ongoing updates as new data becomes available
- Plain language(s) Products/Guidance

. Fully Automatic
- ATM, WTM initiated from remotely-sensed sources, product dissemination 

- False alarms
. Movement of specialised staff to relevant/critical emergency centres.

3.4 Product Dissemination/Access


. Mechanisms defined - appropriateness for individual NMHSs (and RSMCs)
. Emergency Inundation/super-saturation.

3.5 Agency Interaction, Briefings


. Agency feedback - update runs
. Complete Pathways to General Poulation, other agencies (WHO,UNEP/OCHA).

3.6 Declaration of end of event/incident - appropriateness

3.6 Other


. Ongoing Testing - benefits: system kept in a state of readiness, training mechanism.
. Set up draft of "best practice" - from microscale to large scale, all incident types.

4. Operational Arrangements

The following endeavours to delineate the appropriate arrangements for an operational Emergency Response system that enables a rapid response using the latest information and data on a 24 hour/day basis. 

4.1 Maintenance of an Alert Watch for non-nuclear environmental incidents both within and outside the area of the NMHS (or RSMC) responsibility
. Monitoring of Alert Pathways:


- Remote Sensing - Satellite, RADAR, Lightning Detection, Vision systems, EPA (Air/Water), AWS, seismic networks
- Agencies - Local, National, International
- Media
- Public

. Specific Monitoring:


Chemical: New facilities/plants, transport (vehicular)
Fire: Available fuel, curing
Biological: Virus/bacteria outbreaks, hatching (locusts)
Volcanic: Seismic activity, aircraft reports, satellite hot spots
Water Contaimination: Atmospheric pollutants - fallout, factory/facility discharges
Other: Dust - drought factors/indices.
. Diagnostic Source Location: Retro-/Inverse/Adjoint techniques.

4.2 During Emergency

. Send acknowledgement of Alert/Warning/Notification/Request for Action message to originating body (if appropriate).

. Prioritise any incoming Alert/Warning/Notification/Request for Action messages according to usefulness of content (source information, etc).

. Depending on scale, notify local, National and International agencies, as appropriate (which needs defining), along with neighbouring NMHSs and RSMCs - which may provide much- needed backup (even though incident may be originating within, and stay confined in, the NMHS domain).

. Start and maintain a log of events for duration of emergency.

. Access, collate and interpret latest meteorological, river and seastate observations, analyses, forecasts and remotely-sensed imagery - depending on nature and type of incident.

. If necessary (probably for the microscale), carry out quality control on available meteorological and hydrological data.

. Acquire more information about terrain, local meteorological and hydrological efects in vicinity of source, as appropriate.

. Extract and update source details as necessary.

. As new source details are obtained, send out notifications advising relevant bodies.

. Choose and run appropriate atmospheric of hydrological dispersion system (and ensemble versions, if appropriate)for: (i) default source settings appropriate to the non-nuclear incident and (ii) specific source settings. (Note: runs using default settings and pre-defined products may be more easily interpreted in the first instance.)

. Check and interpret meteorological and hydrological dispersion products.

. Collate and compare products from other NMHSs and RSMCs, if available.

. Disseminate Products:


- Mechanism: Fax, phone, web, ftp, GTS, email
- Formats: graphical (including GTS), GRIB/BUFR, text

. Prepare and give briefings, if appropriate.


- Emergency focal points.

. Repeat previous tasks as necessary.


- Source updates
- Meteorological/Hydrological updates.

. Send "End of Emergency" notification, when appropriate.

4.3 Additional Ongoing Tasks

. Obtain, maintain and update registry/databases of chemical sites and holdings, volcanoes.

. Develop Local, National, International (including bi-national) communications.

. Set up, maintain and update valid contact lists (addresses, fax and phone numbers, email addresses, personalities) associated with monitoring, product dissemination, and other emergency agencies, and media contacts.

. Enable password protection/restricted access for web/ftp products. (Awareness of product sensitivity.)

. Maintain system, or procedures, allowing changes to communication links, computer hardware and software.

. Carry out regular testing of all components of system and procedures.

. Examine adequacy of communication links.

. Standardise guidance products for rapid interpretation.

. Streamline standard emergency procedures and protocols for certain emergency types (chemica/biological terror, aeroplane - volcanic ash encounter, etc)

. Automate dissemination processes, as appropriate.

. Examine alternative/suitable product dissemination mechanisms (eg directto screens in emergency centres).

. Advise on hazard reduction (eg fires, location of chemical facilities).

. Set up regional clusters of infrastructure, if appropriate. 

5. Conclusion

The comprehensive delineation of the operational arrangements for non-nuclear emergency response, in NMHSs and RSMCs, is a complex problem that will require continual development and evolution over time.

6. Reference 

Bacon D.P.: "Real Time Modeling and Emergency Response Forecast." pp.171-192, Mesoscale Atmospheric Dispersion. Ed: Z. Boybeyi. WIT Press, Southhampton, 2000.



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