Full Operational Response to Major Accidents Triggered by natural hazards – Full Scale EXercise 2023 (FORMATEX23)

FORMATEX23 is a project that aims to conduct a full-scale (multi-national, multi-level, multi-agency) exercise. The exercise will involve national and regional emergency response organisations, structures, and specific emergency response elements to improve and strengthen cooperation among European members in the context of major accidents triggered by natural hazards. The project started in February 2022 and will run until December 2023.


The exercise FORMATEX23 will involve Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) Modules active in the field of CBRN Chemical Biological Radiology and nuclear (Chemical Biological Radiology and nuclear) (Chemical Biological Radiology and Nuclear hazards), as well as technical experts who will fill the operational gap in the local and national response organisation.  They will get the opportunity to train in a multi-hazard environment together with local civil protection and emergency response experts. FORMATEX23 not only focuses on immediate response activities. It will also strengthen the interface between the response and recovery phase by further elaborating the documentation and handover capabilities of the response organisation.

FORMATEX23 aims to improve the capabilities of agencies, emergency services and the Union Civil Protection Mechanism in preparedness for and response to Natech disasters. It focuses on emergency response and management during complex multi-hazard events with a focus on CBRN hazards and environmental pollution. 

In addition to the general aim as described above, the exercise is needed for a re-certification of the EAU-NLD (operated by RIVM). The re-certification of capacities already certified and registered in the European Civil Protection Pool (ECPP) is a requirement in accordance with the UCPM legislation that should be met before January 2024.

Organisations involved in the FORMATEX23 project are fire rescue services, consultancy agencies, and CBRN representatives from ministries from several countries. RIVM is involved via the Environmental Assessment Unit (EAU).

RIVM role

The RIVM role lies within the deployment of the NLD-EAU within the exercise. RIVM is responsible for managing and implementing the EAU, The Dutch Environmental Assessment Unit. This unit supports the local authorities and involves response organisations during and after an environmental disaster. The team provides screening services to characterise chemical/ environmental threats, quick measurements, sampling and interpretation of the results into a risk or impact assessment.

The main contribution to disaster relief is a quick and comprehensive assessment of the effects on the environment and public health after a disaster. For this, an extensive scientific back office is available through a very active existing national emergency response network. The team is mainly used to assess the medium and long term effects of environmental disasters.

The concept of the EAU is a small flexible team that can be deployed quickly anywhere in the world. For this, the team has mobile equipment, which can be packed modularly and transported easily.

RIVM colleague involved: Niels Masselink.


This project has received funding by the European Commission Directorate-General Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) and the European Union's research and innovation programme Horizon Europe under Grant Agreement No 101048497.