The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has revised the extent of the area around the Portland Operational Berth within which local emergency planning is required to protect the public in the unlikely event of a radiation emergency on a visiting nuclear powered submarine.
ONR has responsibility for determining such areas under the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 (REPPIR).
ONR’s assessment of the radiation hazards from a berthed submarine, and the risk that they present to the public, recognises that the overall risk has not increased since the off-site emergency planning area was previously defined. However, a slight increase to the planning area has been made due to the proportionate application of ONR’s revised principles for such determinations.
The revised area is the area within which the lead local authority, in this case Dorset County Council (DCC), is required to have an emergency plan in place to protect the public.
The revised off-site emergency planning area determined by ONR is, generally, a circular area of 1.5 km radius from the operational berth. However, for built-up areas, the boundary of the area follows defined physical features, such as roads and pathways, and extends to include the residential and commercial areas of Castletown and Fortuneswell, and the National Sailing Academy.
Donald Urquhart, ONR Programme Director, said: “ONR inspectors have reviewed Navy Command’s (MOD) detailed evaluation of the radiation hazards associated with the nuclear powered submarines that may berth at Portland, have compared it to previous assessments in 2008, and have concluded that the radiation risks have not increased.
“By applying our revised principles for determining off-site emergency planning areas in a proportionate manner, we believe that the slightly increased REPPIR emergency planning area we have defined is in the best interests of securing public safety and for practical emergency planning. This is as a result of our work with Dorset County Council to ensure that existing good practice and practical considerations relevant to the area have been taken into account fully.”
ONR has written to DCC and the operator, Navy Command (MOD), to advise them of the decision. The Council will revise its off-site emergency plan, in consultation with the other emergency responders, to ensure proportionate arrangements are in place throughout the new area. REPPIR requires the local authority to revise its’ off-site emergency plan within six months of the determination (or a longer period as ONR may agree in writing).
As part of DCC’s REPPIR off-site emergency planning requirements, Navy Command (MOD) has, in the event of a nuclear emergency, arrangements in place to provide urgent countermeasures to people living closest to the berth. Navy Command (MOD) will work closely with DCC and other responders to ensure that their arrangements continue to complement the local authority emergency plan.