provides an overview of past emergencies, measures in place to respond to a future
emergency and countermeasures that may be used to reduce risks.
Despite all the safety measures applied in using radiation and radioactive materials, accidents can happen.
An emergency may arise at a nuclear installation and lead to the accidental release of radioactive material, its dispersion beyond the boundary of the site, and the need for urgent measures to protect the public. In some circumstances, the release may be brief, in others prolonged.
Significant accidents have happened in 1957 at Windscale (in the UK) and at Kyshtym (then USSR, now Russian Federation), in 1979 at Three Mile Island (USA) and in 1986 at Chernobyl (then USSR, now Ukraine).
Although such accidents may be rare, it is prudent to be prepared for them.
Much more common are emergencies involving radiation sources from medical, industrial, research, and military applications.
Over recent years, the IAEA has received an average of three or four reports each year of emergencies where people have been exposed to high doses because such sources have been lost, stolen, abandoned, or operated wrongly.