The project EU-CHEM-REACT, an EU grant awarded in 2017, aimed to assist Ukraine to assess the performance of the new civil protection system, its efficiency and capacity to interoperate with the neighbouring European Union countries, European institutions and in accordance with European Union standards and procedures.
The project concentrated on specific features of planning and preparedness to CBRN (Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear), with an emphasis on chemical related disasters including chemical warfare agents, toxic industrial chemicals, biological agents and toxins. The project tested preparedness to CBR(N) incidents in Ukraine and its cooperation with EU and neighbours.
Since Ukraine introduced new organization of civil protection, that reorganization affected disaster prevention and response. The performance of the new system, its efficiency and capacity to interoperate with the neighboring European Union countries, European institutions and with European Union standards and procedures was tested in table To (TTX) and Full Scale Exercise (FSX).
The European Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) was used to test interoperability of Ukraine national and EU teams and testing Members States procedures. This was done through verification of planning and preparedness as well as deployment of EUCP Teams in response to a CBRN incident bearing trans-boundary consequences, and cross-border cooperation.
The results of exercises were used to propose the improvements that would be further tested in a summarizing exercise. The outcome included indications of system flaws and discontinuities and proposals of corrective arrangements and procedural improvements.
In order to underline the EU and Ukraine commitment to the global obligations the completeness of planning and preparedness of CBRN emergencies, relevant requirements of UNSC Resolution 1540, Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and WHO IHR, were tested.
TTX verified successfully the existing Ukrainian procedures to conduct timely national crisis management and response operations and actions under the EU Mechanism during chemical and environmental natural and man-made disasters. The Full Scale Exercise (FsX), main element of the project, was organized close to the city of Lviv on 25-28 September 2018. The FsX was proceeded by a series of activities, with a crucial one the Table Top Exercise (TTX) conducted in Lviv in February 2018, which was developed and performed on the base of the ICCSS methodology.
The overall objective was to carry out major emergency simulation exercise, in the context of the UCPM, making it possible to respond to a man-made disaster and mitigate its consequences. Exercises were organized as a combination of Table Top Exercises on early stage of the project and Full Scale Exercise, as a main event.
The detailed objectives included:
• verify current status of Ukraine preparedness for chemical and chemical related incidents of a CBRN nature and magnitude,
• verify interoperability of EU-Ukraine operations on a procedural level,
• verify UCPM pertaining to actions originating in Ukraine
• verify EUCP capacity to participate and add value to a emergency response action to trans-boundary incident originating in Ukraine and expanding to the neighbouring countries.
• identify any areas requiring improvement, taking into consideration rapidly changing societal situation in the EU and Eastern Partnership.
• create, within the UCPM and neighbouring countries, a common basis of understanding concerning the tasks, procedures and co-operation during international civil protection assistance interventions,
• test procedures for receiving international assistance, establishing a RDC and OSCOCC (established by EUCPT) as tools for good coordination of them (i.e. existing procedures within EU Civil Protection Mechanism),
• check compatibility of different rescue and communication equipment (during the common work of international rescue teams),
• build up a capacity to work in a multinational environment, with competent national authorities and under extreme conditions,
• strengthening capacities of voluntary based assets (e.g. voluntary fire service and red cross intervention teams) to be able to operate in multinational environment. This has substantial meaning in the process of building capacities of intervention teams to be registered and certified as an European Civil Protection modules (e.g. ground forest fire fighting using vehicles or advanced medical post)
Project consisted of:
- Kick-off meeting organized in Brussels as one of the first actions within the project
- 2 Planning conferences, organized in Lviv, Ukraine Ukraine
- Table Top Exercise (TTX) organized in Lviv, Ukraine. TTX was designed to facilitate a knowledge transfer and exchange of experience in between participants, organizers and observers. Most of participants represented Ukrainian services and agencies involved in rescue operations in case of CBRN event. Each operations level of services and agencies was represented (intervention, tactic and strategic). Concerning the size of incident local, regional, national and international entities were involved.
- Full Scale Exercise (FSX) - a main event of the project was organized in Lviv, Ukraine. The scenario construction required an extensive number of rescue services, agencies and other organizations to be involved in practical part of the exercises. Responders from Ukraine, Czech Republic, Latvia, and Poland were be challenged with many injects creating necessity of extensive cooperation both on the operational and planning level.
One of the FSX tasks was to assure that exercise participants will be involved in carrying on rescue activities constantly for 36 hours.
FSX scenario was a follow up on the actions conducted by the participants of the TTX. TTX baseline scenario assumed two major incidents taking place in the town of Yavoriv inhabited by ca. 13,000 inhabitants, with small ethnic minority. Yavoriv is a district town of the Lviv Oblast. Oblast Lviv forms a part of Western Ukraine bordering Poland and Slovakia from the West. Two persons managed to purchase ca. 20 kg of TNT and decided to explore new tactics and hit an object causing impact nearing mass destruction with a home-made car bomb. They selected chlorine stockade at Epoksid Chemical Works as they target. They found approaching strong winds as favourable, reasoning that their attack will aggravate havoc expected after the hurricane passing. In case, they reasoned, wind takes other direction, the plume will either threatens Lviv or travels towards Polish-Ukrainian border, in both cases causing humanitarian catastrophe and political troubles. The Epoksid Chemical Works are located in the administrative borders of Yavoriv’skyi raion at the SE outskirts of Yavoriv. The Epoksid Chemical Works are manufacturing epoxy resins from Epichlorhydrin synthesised on-site in chlorination of propylene with chlorine obtained from local electrolysis plant.
Since most of the national rescue capacities were involved in rescue operations for many days and as a result of terrorist act in Epoksid Chemical Works Ukrainian Authorities declared the highest threat level international resources are requested to extend mission duration for 4 more days.
To achieve mentioned objectives 3 days activities involving both national and international participants from different executive levels starting from field operations units, local and regional commanding staff to international experts and advisors.
The TTX and FSX management carried all necessary activities needed to ensure proper quality of the exercises. This involved three main phases:
TTX and FSX Design and development: Building on the exercise foundation for both TTX and FSX, the design and development process focused on identifying objectives, designing the specific scenario based on initial needs assessment, creating required documentation, planning exercise conduct, coordinating logistics and selecting an evaluation methodology and conduct internal trainings for evaluators.
TTX and FSX Conduct: When first phase was completed and all planned actions are finished first the Table Top Exercises took place. Exercise conduct steps included setup, briefings, facilitation/control/evaluation, and hot wash-up activities. Outcomes of the TTX were incorporated in planning cycle for FSX to assure the highest quality of FSX.
TTX and FSX Evaluation: The evaluation phase both for TTX and FSX included a formal exercise evaluation and an evaluation report that identified strengths and areas for improvement in terms of operational procedures, performance of involved resources etc. Recommendations related to areas for improvement were identified to helped develop evaluation report and offered concrete recommendations for organizers and participants.
Lessons learnt meeting, organized in Lviv, Ukraine
Project was a good opportunity for all actors taking part in project to verify and improve (if necessary) their operational procedures in case of CBRN incidents, and to use UCPM.
The practical exercises rehearsing common response to a situation as in the scenario allowed for:
• testing UCPM activation and use of relevant procedures in case of emergency situations, especially in case of CBRN accidents,
• development standard operation procedures in the areas identified during table top and full scale exercises as requiring special attention
• elaboration of baseline solutions connected to such incident that might happen during the events related to man-made disasters,
• verification of existing country to country agreements (e.g. Ukraine-Poland and Ukraine-Lithuania) and testing its practical implementation in case of major emergencies,
• practice the process and its procedures of evaluation of full scale field exercises organised in the framework of UCPM,
• increasing the level of European conscience among Ukraine Citizens, introduction of quantifiable benefits and capacities of UCPM and promotion of joint activities,
• share knowledge about UCPM with strategic partner for European Union – Ukraine, especially through dissemination of minimum required standards and procedures in the framework of civil protection valid for EU Participating States.
The project preparation, conduct and lessons learned allowed to present the following recommendation and proposals which were included in the development of the EU-CHEM-REACT-2
1. The EU-CHEM-REACT 1 proved to be a great opportunity for Ukrainian partners to test the whole UCPM activation process and simultaneously to verify their own mechanism and procedures to be activated in case of CBRN threats. The other countries which were observers, including Belarus and Moldova, joined EU-CHEM-REACT as members and beneficiaries.
2. UCPM activation procedures are known for third countries, and are perceived as added value for emergency operations. The implementation of existing procedures a coordination of international resources and process of incorporation of these capacities, vial UCPM, into existing local emergency structures was smooth and effective.
a. Information management with the use of Virtual OSOCC is time consuming but brings broad spectrum of advantages for incidents managers and responders.
b. Coordination's structure based on OSOCC concept proofed its usability. EUCP Teams members brought their experience and knowledge how to make the best use of resources requested by the Ukrainian Government.
c. Simplification of border crossing procedure is highly needed. Even though all respective organisations, agencies and governmental bodies were informed in advance about a fact that such an exercises are prepared and will be organized on the Ukrainian territory process of border crossing was time consuming. This led to a significant delays and has a destructive effect on the first phase of the exercises. It is necessary that simplified border crossing procedures should be discussed, formalized and implemented for international rescue operations. This will considerably shorten the time needed for international capacities to reach designated place and start to work.
3. There is a high need for standardization of trainings/exercises and operational procedures for non - EU Members in the area of CBRN. This specific type of incidents require a common approach used and understood by organizers and personnel responsible for exercise preparation. It was proved that a good exercise and training have a great influence on the team performance on the real case incidents.
4. The project proved the usefulness of this kind of exercises with involvement of real emergency teams both voluntary based and professional ones. Working together with professionals on all worksites Volunteers also proved their professionalism and their full involvement in all activities. Based on the observations on how much they have been involved in task execution, one conclusion appears, that both their training and the equipment are practically at the same level as EU standardized modules.
5. Some countries built their national and international response capacity on the volunteer based resources while for other countries it is highly unlikely to deploy volunteer based resources for overseas operations. FSX proved that even this countries that have had never deployed volunteer based resources for international operations can benefit from already existing resources and with a modest adaptation or preparation process this resources can become an valuable assets in the pool of modules ready to be deployed abroad.
6. Common methodology of designing, preparing and execution of Table Top (TTX) and Field Exercises (FsX) is needed. This has a huge importance especially for countries that due to many different factors are not used to prepare and organize a training or exercise session in a modern and effective way.