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People in hazmat suits and special units of the fire brigade carrying someone on a stretcher
A CBRNe incident is an emergency involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials, possibly combined with explosives (to spread these materials).

This may be due to

  • an accident or an involuntary event, for example a transport incident or a pandemic;
  • a malicious event, such as a crime or terrorist attack;
  • the use or presence of military equipment, installations or agents, requiring multidisciplinary management and/or coordination at national level.

A CBRNe incident always requires multidisciplinary management and/or coordination at national level. Examples of CBRNe incidents are: a major accident involving dangerous substances, an epidemic, a nuclear accident, etc.


Exposure to hazardous substances is not always obvious and can sometimes only be noticed after a few days or weeks. Do you think you have been in contact with dangerous substances? Be attentive to the following:

  • You notice indistinct fumes, strange smells and tastes.
  • You have trouble with your eyes, skin and respiratory system.
  • You have any of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, tremors, sweating, disorientation, difficulty breathing and fever. These are serious indications of contamination.
  • Other people around you feel the same or get symptoms.


  • Leave the area where the dangerous substances are coming from. Go to a safe place. Call 112.
  • Have you been in contact with a suspicious substance?
    • Take off your outer clothes.
    • Throw your clothes in a garbage bag and seal it.
    • Take a shower.
  • Follow the recommendations of the authorities or the emergency services on site.


  • The material you came into contact with will be examined. You will be given the necessary instructions.
  • Contact your family doctor.

Impact and probability

CBR(N) attack against a soft target. Impact: high impact. Probability: possible.Transport sector CBRN incident. Impact: low impact. Probability: very likely.In 2018, the National Crisis Center coordinated a large-scale risk assessment for Belgium for the period 2018-2023. Several experts assessed various risks based on their probability and their impact on people, society, the environment and the economy.

For the risk of 'CBR(N) attack', the analysis is:

  • Impact: high impact
  • Probability: possible

For the risk of 'transport sector CBRN incident', the analysis is:

  • Impact: low impact
  • Probability: very likely

Read more about this analysis and what these charts mean here. 

What does the government do?

In 2018 a CBRNe expertise centre was set up within the National Crisis Center. It helps partners to make CBRNe emergency plans operational, offers support in crisis management, and participates in training for intervention services.

A CBRNe incident always requires multidisciplinary management and/or coordination at national level. Depending on the nature of the incident, different emergency plans may be triggered by a CBRNe risk, for example the nuclear and radiological emergency plan or the CBRNe terrorism emergency plan.