Atomic Energy Authority functioning under the Ministry of Power & Energy has taken steps to establish an Early Warning System to respond to nuclear accidents that could increase background radiation levels in Sri Lanka.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has provided equipment worth of 72,000/- Euros in 2012 acceding to a request made by the Atomic Energy Authority in 2010.
Nuclear accidents have been identified by the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) as one of the disasters that require preparedness planning at the national level. IAEA provided opportunities for training of the staff of DMC and AEA.
Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) has agreed to provide cooperation and space to establish Remote Monitoring Stations (RMS) in Naval Bases of Kalpitiya, Thalai Mannar, Delft and Kankasanthurai initially. These bases have been identified to detect any increased background radiation levels arising from nuclear accident that could happen in India or in any other country reaching from North Western and Northern directions to the country. In the second stage few more RMSs will be established to cover the entire island.
The tripartite agreement is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by AEA, SLN and DMC for the maintenance of RMSs.
The RMS can detect background radiation and transmit via telephony system to the Central Monitoring Station (CMS) located in the AEA. CMS will operate round the clock and CMS will alert DMC to activate the Disaster Management Programme prepared for radiological emergencies.
Each nuclear reactor has a life span of 50 – 60 years and with the commissioning of considerable number of nuclear reactors for electricity generation, the preparedness programme for nuclear accidents will have to continue without interruption.
Base-line information of radioactivity levels in sea water, fresh water, ground water, air, soil, grass, and agricultural and livestock products should be established. Base-line information is useful for comparison during accident and post-accident phases.
The AEA has prepared a proposal to submit to the government for development of physical and human resources and acquisition of infrastructure to deal with nuclear accidents. Unlike other disasters like floods, cyclones, Tsunami etc, emergency preparedness for nuclear accidents require technological inputs and trained personnel for mobilization and environmental monitoring during pre-accident, accident and post-accident phases.
IAEA has a mechanism to provide technological inputs based on evidence of national commitment for dealing with nuclear accidents.
The nuclear accidents can have trans-boundary effects and IAEA has devised international conventions for early notification of a nuclear accidents, international assistance for dealing with nuclear or radiological accidents and exchange of information related to nuclear accidents.
The MOU related to tripartite agreement was signed by AEA, SLN and DMC on 28th June 2012 at the Ministry of Power & Energy in the presence of Hon’ble Patali Champika Ranawaka, Minister of Power & Energy and Hon’ble Mahinda Amaraweera, Minister of Disaster Management.