The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has revised the extent of the area around the Aldermaston Nuclear Licensed Site within which local emergency planning is required in order to protect the public in the unlikely event of a radiation emergency.
ONR has responsibility for determining this area under the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 (REPPIR).
ONR has concluded that there has been a reduction in the hazards and risks of a radiation emergency since the last determination which defined an off-site planning area with a radius of 3 km. This has resulted in a decrease, overall, in the size of the emergency planning area due to the combined effects of this reduction in the hazards and risks of a radiation emergency and the proportionate applications of ONRs principles for such determinations.
The revised emergency planning area is the area within which the lead local authority, in this case West Berkshire Council (WBC), is required to have an emergency plan in place to protect the public.
The revised off-site emergency planning area determined by ONR is a land area that varies in distance from 2 km to 3.5 km from the centre of the site. It is bounded by identifiable geographical features such as roads, footpaths, field boundaries and rivers. The area includes the villages of Aldermaston, Inhurst, Pamber Heath and the town of Tadley.
The change has resulted in some properties now falling within the revised off-site planning area that were not previously included. The previously bisected communities of Inhurst and Tadley will now fall entirely within the revised emergency planning area. Equally, some other properties that were previously within the planning area are now no longer included.
Donald Urquhart, ONR Programme Director, said: “ONR inspectors have reviewed AWE Plc’s detailed evaluation of the radiation hazards and risks associated with the Aldermaston Nuclear Licensed Site, have compared it to the previous assessment, and have concluded that the risk of a radiation emergency has decreased.
“By applying our principles for determining off-site emergency planning areas in a proportionate manner, we believe that the revised 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 West Berkshire Council to ensure that existing good practice and practical considerations relevant to the area have been taken fully into account.”
ONR has written to WBC and the operator, AWE Plc, 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 such longer period as ONR may agree in writing).