Since the September 11 terrorist attack, nuclear or atomic energy warfare has haunted the United States like the sword of Damocles. To be alert and preventive in this regard, China has contingency plans of its own. The news was released at the international forum “Atomic Energy and the Public”, jointly held by the China Atomic Energy Authority and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Doctor Su Xu，director of the Nuclear Accident Emergency Center at the Ministry of Health, said that since 9/11, how to prevent and cope with terrorist attack in order to guarantee political, economic and social security, as well as public health, has become a matter of national concern for many governments around the world. Given the potentially severe international counter-terrorist situation, the Ministry of Health has launched: Medical Contingency Plan on Terrorist Nuclear and Radioactive Attacks, and Medical Implementation (Executive) Plan on Terrorist Nuclear and Radioactive Attacks. Made public early this year, the plans aim to strengthen China’s emergency response ability in dealing with terrorist attacks.
The plans define terrorist, nuclear and radioactive attack with the following characteristics: any intimidation (bullying) or attack using radioactive facilities (including simple nuclear explosion equipment) or raids on nuclear facilities (including important radioactive facilities) which lead to the leakage of radioactive materials. A terrorist attack would cause an immense physiological and social impact on a large number of the population; sabotaging national public affairs and civilian lives; threatening social stability and economic development.
According to the plans, as soon as a suspected nuclear terrorist incident is detected, all witnesses should immediately inform local police and health departments. Local government will send personnel to the scene for confirmation and report the accident to the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Health at the same time. By judging the level of the terrorist incident, emergency agencies will begin contingency measures and emergency procedures.
In addition, the Nuclear Accident Emergency Center at the Ministry of Health has set up a rescue squad, including 12 experts in radioactivity and medicine who are divided into two action groups equipped with radioactivity protection and rescue and medical facilities ready to act at anytime. Once notice has been received, the squad will rally at the research center of the nuclear accident in minimum time to carry out rescue actions and direct operations.
Besides treatment and rescue measures, to cope with nuclear fallout, prevention work is also under high consideration by enhancing the security of existing nuclear facilities. In addition, research on accidents occurring in nuclear power plants is underway; nuclear power plants updating their security regulations on design and construction, and implementing regular security check-ups and trainings on personnel.
(China.org.cn by Li Liangdu, April 16, 2003)