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Informing the general public in the event of a radiological emergency

The purpose of this directive is to define common principles with regard to measures and procedures for informing the general public should a nuclear accident occur. It aims to improve the operational health protection of the general public in the event of a radiological emergency


Council Directive 89/618/Euratom of 27 November 1989 on informing the general public about health protection measures to be applied and about steps to be taken in the event of a radiological emergency


Radiological emergency

A radiological emergency could be any of the following situations:

  • An accident in the territory of a Member State as a result of which a significant release of radioactive material (i.e. exceeding the basic radiation protection standards set out in Directive 96/29/Euratom) occurs or is likely to occur,
  • or the detection of abnormal levels of radioactivity which are likely to be detrimental to public health in that Member State.

Accidents covered

The accidents covered by this Directive are those attributable to the following facilities or activities:

  • any nuclear reactor;
  • any other nuclear-fuel-cycle facility;
  • any radioactive-waste management facility;
  • the transport and storage of nuclear fuels or radioactive wastes;
  • the manufacture, use, storage, disposal and transport of radioisotopes for agricultural, industrial, medical and related scientific and research purposes;
  • the use of radioisotopes for power generation in space vehicles.

Population affected

A distinction is made between:

  • the population likely to be affected, i.e. any population group for which Member States have drawn up intervention plans in the event of a radiological emergency;
  • the population actually affected, i.e. any population group for which specific protection measures are taken as soon as a radiological emergency occurs.

Informing the public

The population likely to be affected must be informed about the health-protection measures applicable to it and about the action it should take in the event of such an emergency. This advance information shall be communicated to the population without any request being made for it.

As soon as a radiological emergency occurs, the population actually affected must be informed without delay of:

  • the facts of the emergency,
  • the steps to be taken,
  • the health-protection measures applicable to the population in question.

Persons who are not on the staff of the facilities and/or are not engaged in the activities in question, but who might be involved in the organisation of emergency assistance, must be given adequate and regularly updated information on the health risks their intervention might involve and on the precautionary measures to be taken. As soon as a radiological emergency occurs, this information must be supplemented appropriately, having regard to the specific circumstances.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 89/618/Euratom



OJ L 357 of 7.12.1989


Council Directive 97/43/Euratom of 30 June 1997 on health protection of individuals against the dangers of ionizing radiation in relation to medical exposure, and repealing Directive 84/466/Euratom [Official Journal L 180 of 9.7.1997]

Last updated: 17.08.2006
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