Government needs to check its list of scientific advisers for hazardous emergencies says new report

THE list of experts who can provide scientific advice during a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) incident needs to be checked and updated by the Government, according to a new report.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report follows its inquiry on ‘Science in emergencies’ last May, which IPEM contributed written evidence to.

The Committee of MPs was warned by Dr Dame Sue Ion, a member of the emergency science advice group set up to respond to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan in 2011, that many of the UK subject matter experts involved in providing advice during that incident have since retired.

The report explores the mechanisms for drawing on science advice to plan for and respond to potential disasters ranging from industrial fires to major toxic spills and chemical attacks. It found a "confusing landscape of organisations and acronyms which has been difficult to navigate".

The report specifically quoted IPEM’s evidence regarding decontamination. It said: “The Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine told us that the new advice to use dry decontamination was ‘mainly based on chemical events and not radiological or biological. Common consensus would be that damp (wet wipes or wet sponge) or wet decontamination is better for radiological casualties, however this was not reflected in the updated Initial Operational Response’.”

The Committee also investigated how the communication of science could be improved during an emergency, and calls for a dedicated independent scientific press officer to be appointed to all future emergency advice groups (known as SAGEs).

IPEM was one of 25 organisations and individuals which provided written evidence to the ‘Science in emergencies: chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incidents’ inquiry last May.  

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Posted: Apr 5, 2017,
Categories: IPEM News,
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Author: Sean Edmunds
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