The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has re-determined a revised area around the Southampton Operational Berth. ONR is required to make these decisions under the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 (REPPIR).
The revised area is where the lead local authority, in this case Southampton City Council (SCC), is required to have an emergency plan in place to protect the public in the unlikely event of a radiation emergency.
The off-site emergency planning area has been revised from a circle with a 1.5 km radius from the birth point, to the new area defined by ONR to provide enhanced public protection.
The revised area follows in the main, the existing Southampton City Council off-site emergency plan boundary, the inner edges of roads, property boundaries and distinctive pathways on land, and with a radius of 1.5 km across all marine areas. It includes parts of Southampton to the north, Woolston to the east and Hythe in the south-west.
ONR is clear that the increase in the overall planning area does not reflect an increased risk to the public from the site and that the existing emergency planning arrangements currently offers appropriate protection to the public. The change in area is a result of ONR formalising existing good practice and using its revised principles for determining more effective REPPIR off-site emergency planning areas with the intention that this will lead to additional improvements in public protection.
Mike Finnerty, ONR Director of the Cross ONR Programme, said: “Although our assessment of the radiation hazards from a nuclear submarine berthed at the Southampton Operational Berth confirm that the overall risk has not increased, we believe that the enhanced REPPIR emergency planning is in the best interests of public safety, demonstrating our commitment to continuous improvement.”
“Following our revised principles, ONR inspectors have reviewed our assessment of Navy Command’s detailed evaluation of the radiation hazards, and have worked with Southampton City Council to ensure that existing good practice and practical considerations relevant to the area have been taken into account when defining the new area for the off-site emergency plan.”
ONR has written to SCC and the operators advising them of the decision. The Council will revise their off-site emergency plan in consultation with the other emergency responders to ensure appropriate arrangements are in place throughout the new area. REPPIR requires the Council to revise their off-site emergency plan within six months of the determination (or longer period as ONR may agree in writing).
As part of SCC’s REPPIR off-site emergency planning requirements, Navy Command have arrangements in place to provide urgent countermeasures to people living closest to the site if there is an accident. Navy Command will work closely with SCC and other responders to ensure that their arrangements continue to complement the local authority emergency plan.