The Nuclear Regulatory Authority (ARN) and the Atucha Nuclear Complex (CNA) carried out the Nuclear Emergency Plan Implementation Exercise during which different scenarios were proposed with the active participation of the External Emergency Response Organizations (OREE). The drill involved the population of Lima and areas surrounding the Nuclear Power Plant within a radius of 10 kilometers, Civil Defense organizations, Armed Forces and Security.

The Nuclear Emergency Operating Center (COEN), in charge of implementing automatic protection actions in the population, directing the work of response organizations and analyzing subsequent measures, depending on the development of the accident conditions at the plant, among other actions, was installed in the Municipal Forum of Zárate, from where the planned scenarios were monitored in real time. The authorities of the ARN, the ANC and the heads of the REEs gathered there.

For the Argentine Navy, the Commander of the Naval Fluvial Area and Chief of the Zárate Naval Base, Navy Commodore Daniel Francisco Finardi, supervised from the COEN the development of the drill that contemplated the Zárate Naval Base (BNZA) as one of the planned scenarios, fulfilling the role of receiving center and referral of evacuees.

Within the framework of the exercise, BNZA personnel assumed the planning, establishment and operation of the evacuation center with the support of the Marine Infantry Battalion No. 3 “Almirante Eleazar Videla”, while the Rivers Squadron arranged for the deployment of the ARA “Río Santiago” patrol boat to the dock of the Naval Base.

Access control, the evacuation and transfer of residents, the decontamination of people and vehicles, the distribution of tablets and the transfer of workers by river, were some of the scenarios that were planned.

The exercises for the application of the Emergency Plans (drills) are carried out in accordance with the provisions of the National Law on Nuclear Activity No. 24,804, its Regulatory Decree No. 1390/98 and the International Convention on Nuclear Safety (approved by Law No. 24,776).

The objective is to raise awareness and educate the population, improve the performance and coordination of the personnel of the response organizations and evaluate the performance of the application of the Emergency Plan of the CNA and the Municipality of Zárate.

Development of the exercise at the Zárate Naval Base
After 08:30 hours, a significant event for security at the Atucha Nuclear Complex marked the beginning of the exercise for all the organizations involved, declaring Green Alert and subsequent Red Alarm, given the evolution of the situation and the emission of radioactive material.

At the same time, due to traffic controls and access to the area and, given the urgency of changing the guard in the reactor, the Zárate Naval Base was required to transfer 20 essential workers by river, for which the ARA “Río Santiago” patrol boat was deployed.

Then, a total of 50 students from Primary School No. 31 in Lima arrived at the Naval Base, followed by two buses with 65 workers from the Nuclear Project Management Unit, who were received and guided by military personnel to begin the stages of radiological monitoring / decontamination, triage and registration.

In this regard, the director of the educational establishment Analía Zambón said: “We had a previous talk at the school about nuclear emergencies and the steps to follow. This year we participated in a partial way by taking the children out of school to the base; It is important that they know how to react to an emergency situation, while at school or at home. Everyone responded well and knew what they needed to do.”

Likewise, volunteer personnel of the Argentine Red Cross subsidiary Zárate, joined the Health section of the Naval Base to provide first aid to the evacuated inhabitants.

Each of the actions and prevention measures carried out by the External Emergency Response Organizations were monitored by the authorities, who maintained fluid contact with the personnel deployed in each scenario.

Final Thoughts

After four hours of drilling, the exercise ended with a final evaluation by engineers Hernán Ricagni and Ariel Chesini, from the Atucha Nuclear Complex and Walter Truppa, from the Nuclear Regulatory Authority.

In the first instance, they thanked the participation and willingness of all organizations, as well as the equipment used and means made available; highlighting the professionalism and responsibility in each of the simulated practices.

The different scenarios were analyzed, highlighting the simultaneous deployment of each of the participating organizations, which fulfilled the leading role of prevention in citizenship.

Mention was made of the evacuation of students and workers with their subsequent transfer and reception to the Zárate Naval Base, where the parameters established by the exercise were met.

In this regard, Navy Commodore Daniel Francisco Finardi commented: “A total of 83 people fulfilled various functions during the drill, being positive the actions of each of them with the reception and attention of the inhabitants. We especially highlight the possibility of the river transfer of the guard to the Nuclear Power Plant, because it allowed us to have a recognition of the mooring place, in the event of a real emergency”.

Finally, they highlighted the integration of each of the Forces to the scenarios, the execution times and the possibility of using the drill as part of the training of personnel.