Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Sizewell off-site emergency planning area

25 April, 2014

ONR has determined a revised area around the Sizewell nuclear site where the local authority, in this case Suffolk County Council, has to have an emergency plan in place to protect the public in the unlikely event of a radiation emergency.  ONR is required to make these decisions under the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 (REPPIR).

The off-site emergency planning area has been revised from a circular 2.4 km zone around the site to a boundary of approximately 2 to 3 km, based largely on postcodes, but enhanced to include Leiston and the majority of the adjoining village of Aldringham.

ONR is clear that the increase in the overall planning area does not reflect an increased risk to the public from the site; in fact, the overall hazard has significantly reduced.  Nor does the increase mean that current emergency planning arrangements do not protect the public.   The change in area is a result of ONR using its revised principles for determining REPPIR off-site emergency planning areas for the first time where people could be affected by a reasonably foreseeable radiation emergency. This means that, as well as assessing Magnox Ltd and EDF Energy Nuclear Generation Ltd’s technical submissions, ONR has also taken into account local strategic and practical issues.

George Sallit, ONR Deputy Chief Inspector said:

“Our technical assessment of the hazards on the Sizewell nuclear sites confirms that the overall risk from the dual site has reduced and I believe that the revised REPPIR emergency planning area is in the best interests of public safety, demonstrating our commitment to continuous improvement.

In applying our revised principles, ONR inspectors have not only assessed the operators’ technical reports but have also worked with Suffolk County Council and other agencies to ensure that practical considerations, relevant to the Sizewell area, have been taken into account when defining the area requiring an off-site emergency plan. This includes avoiding having an emergency planning boundary that unnecessarily cuts through small local communities.”

ONR has written to Suffolk County Council and the operators today advising them of its decision. The council will revise its off-site emergency plan in consultation with the other responders to ensure that robust arrangements (including those arrangements referred to as countermeasures) are in place as appropriate. The revised plan will then be published on the Suffolk Resilience website.

Alongside Suffolk County Council’s REPPIR off-site emergency planning requirements, the operators’ arrangements under their nuclear site licence continue to support the provision of specific urgent countermeasures to people living close to the site in the event of an incident.  Suffolk County Council will work with Magnox Ltd, EDF Energy Nuclear Generation Ltd and other responders to ensure that these arrangements continue to complement the revised local authority off-site emergency plan.

The on-site and urgent countermeasure provisions of the licensee, and the off-site emergency plan put in place by the Local Authority would be complemented by wider food restrictions as determined by the Food Standards Agency in accordance with Food and Environment Protection Act 1985.

Full details of the determination can be found in the Project Assessment Report.