Nuclear Power Stations: Emergencies

Energy and Climate Change written question – answered on 14th January 2014.

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Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn Labour, Newport West

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the adequacy and effectiveness of emergency evacuation plans following the release of significant levels of radiation from nuclear power plants sited in areas prone to flooding.

Photo of Michael Fallon Michael Fallon The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills , Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change

The protection of nuclear sites from flood risks is a well-established aspect of nuclear safety within the UK. Nuclear site operators are responsible for undertaking flood risk assessments and providing and maintaining control measures to ensure their sites remain safe from faults and damage arising from flooding.

Licensed nuclear site operators also develop and maintain emergency plans in accordance with their site license conditions and Regulation 7 of the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 (REPPIR). Similarly, detailed off-site radiation emergency plans are developed by local authorities hosting nuclear sites in accordance with Regulation 9 of REPPIR. Such plans include the application of a range of counter-measures, one of which is evacuation. The local authority must ensure that the off-site emergency plans are resilient to a range of weather conditions.

The emergency response plans are reviewed and tested on a regular basis, to assess their accuracy and effectiveness, and are continually updated and improved. The Office for Nuclear Regulation is responsible for ensuring that such reviews and tests take place in line with REPPIR. Further information about REPPIR is available on the Health and Safety Executive's website:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/radiation/ionising/reppir.htm

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) also continually assess the UK's overall preparedness in terms of planning for, and being able to respond to, nuclear emergencies.

Following the events at Fukushima in Japan in 2011, ONR carried out a detailed assessment of the implications of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami for the UK (the Weightman Report), which included analysis and recommendations, concerning preparedness for severe and prolonged emergencies. The 2011 report and the assessment of progress against the report can be found on the Health and Safety Executive's website:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/nuclear/fukushima/

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