intro 053On April 19, 2016 on the eve of the 30th anniversary of Chornobyl disaster Ukrainian National Environmental Non-Governmental Organization “МАМА-86” together with the State Inspectorate for Nuclear Regulation of Ukraine with support of Sida held the National round table on Public Awareness of Nuclear and Radiation Safety.

In 2015–2016 experts of UNENGO “МАМА-86” conducted research of international and Ukrainian regulatory framework on public awareness of nuclear and radiation safety and the current situation in this sphere. The conclusions and recommendations of this research were presented in the framework of the round table for stakeholders’ discussion. The participants included representatives of the regulator, operators (NPP), local authorities, the public, researchers and the media.

In his welcoming remarks, Sergei Bozhko, Chair of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) stressed the importance of transparency in the sphere of nuclear and radiation safety and public involvement in its discussion.

Anna Golubovska-Onisimova, Chair of the Coordination Board of “MAMA-86”, said that the organization was established in 1990 to disclose information about the effects of Chornobyl. Numerous studies in subsequent years, in particular conducted by “MAMA-86”, show: had in 1986 the information about the accident not been concealed and people been informed about the impact of radiation contamination on human health and the environment and been instructed how to act during emergencies at nuclear power plants at the appropriate level, then the consequences of the Chornobyl disaster would not have been so grave.

Taras Kozulko, Head of the Department for Management Support, Interaction with the Public and Information Policies of SNRIU reported on the legal framework for public information on nuclear and radiation safety in Ukraine, the activities of central executive bodies, including information work done at the local level among people living in areas near nuclear power plants and public consultations on issues relating to nuclear radiation safety, above all, issues of continuation of operation of Ukrainian NPPs.

Nataliya Ivanenko, Manager of the “Developing a System of Informing the Public on Nuclear Safety” Project presented the results of a study conducted by the NGO “MAMA-86”. The study included comparison of Ukrainian regulatory framework on informing the public on nuclear and radiation safety with regulatory of the EU member States. According to its results, in Ukraine the issue of public awareness of nuclear and radiation safety at all levels still needs institutional and legal improvements. One of the most effective mechanisms for better informing the public about nuclear and radiation safety at the national level may become the creation of a national inter-agency information center with a consolidated online resource where information will be provided in an accessible way for people from different backgrounds. Locally, the formation of information commissions consisting of delegated representatives of stakeholders will contribute to effective cooperation between local authorities, representatives of NPPs nuclear regulator, the media and the public.

Participants heard reports on the activities of operators of nuclear power plants to inform the local population on the nuclear and radiation safety and the current state of public awareness and experience of France of the creation of local information centers in NPP satellite towns. They were able to compare these data with the results of the survey on nuclear radiation safety awareness in Netishin (Khmelnitsk NPP) and Kuznetsovsk (Rivne NPP) received by “MAMA-86” in the framework of the study.

Olga Kosharna, Director on Institutional Development, Ukrainian Nuclear Forum association reported on the advantages and disadvantages of the state of public awareness on the nuclear radiation safety. In particular, Olga Kosharna drew attention to the issue of trust of citizens to information from government agencies and local authorities and energy companies. In her opinion, one of the key tasks is the search for new mechanisms of raising awareness of people, who are not integrated into the NGOs.

Lyudmila Shestakova, Head of regional branch of “MAMA-86” in Kirovograd, described the state of public awareness of the nuclear and radiation safety in the areas of extraction and processing of uranium ore on the example of Kirovograd region. Due to the its location on deposits of uranium and development of uranium mining industry, the region has high radioactive risks. According to the survey of local people, among the most acute problems is the lack of information about the environment and environmental impact by uranium companies.

As part of the final session, participants expressed their observations and proposals for mechanisms to ensure proper information and emergency preparedness of the population. In particular, all participants agreed on the necessity of creating information commissions that will ensure cooperation of all stakeholders and confidence of public and specialized professionals to the information, as well as establishing the responsibility of these commissions for the quality and availability of information to the public. It was suggested to create a Working group that will review in detail all the stages of these tasks.

As outcome of the round table the second phase of consultations will be prepared and final recommendations on organizational and legal steps to be taken in Ukraine in the direction of improving the public awareness of the issues related to nuclear and radiation safety will be developed.

Annexes:

Presentations: