Everything done at a UK nuclear plant is subject to the scrutiny and approval of an independent government agency: the Office for Nuclear Regulation
They require everyone who could be involved in an emergency situation to not only be trained in likely scenarios, but also to take part in regular training exercises. Their timing and content is agreed with the NII and must demonstrate that effective arrangements, training and resources are in place for dealing with emergencies.
There are three exercise levels:
These exercises mainly concentrate on the site licensee's actions on site. They may involve the emergency services and other external organisations. There may be some off-site support but the extent to which off-site support is activated varies according to the NII requirements.
This level is designed to test the function of the wider off-site arrangements and occurs every three years. These exercises require staff to operate the off-site facility. They also provide an opportunity for a wide range of government departments and other agencies to take part.
An exercise on a national scale, Level 3 tests the setting up and operation of all the off-site arrangements and also includes the various government departments and their agencies, at their headquarters.
For further information, visit the website of the Health Protection Agency’s Radiation Protection Division by clicking here: www.hpa.org.uk/radiation
The Central Emergency Support Centre (CESC)
This is the technical centre set up by Magnox to support the site's response to an emergency.
- formulating off-site advice on counter-measures to protect the public
- assisting in engineering a 'technical' fix for the affected plant
- providing information
- mobilising the resources of the company and industry to help the site
Strategic Coordination Centre (SCC)
This centre is usually located at the local Police Headquarters, it is the location of the multi agency response to the emergency.
- ensuring the accident remains at the local level
- combining and co-ordinating responses of local and national expert agencies
- defining and implementing the counter-measure advice received to protect the public
The Emergency Control Centre (ECC)
This centre is located at the affected site.
- managing the off-site response team before handing over this responsibility to the CESC
- ensuring protection of site personnel
- ensuring that the plant is returned to a safe state
- monitoring and minimise the impact on the environment
The Media Briefing Centre (MBC)
This is often co-located with the SCC.
Providing co-ordinated, authoritative information and advice to the public via the media by holding press conferences and briefings, chaired by the Police and supported by Magnox Limited, the Government Technical Advisor and any other agencies where appropriate.
In the very unlikely event of an incident of at any of the UK sites, a four-phase response would immediately take effect to take control of the accident at the site. This response comprises:
- the assessment of the consequences arising from the accident, and alerting the relevant authorities and the public
- the introduction of countermeasures to minimise short and longer-term effects
- the return to normal conditions.
The emergency actions are focused on two zones:
- a zone immediately surrounding an installation, inside which arrangements to protect the public are planned in detail. The boundary of this zone is drawn according to the maximum credible foreseeable situation.
- a secondary zone beyond the detailed emergency planning zone above. Although highly unlikely to be needed, emergency plans to respond must still be in place. However, specific arrangements can only be defined according to weather conditions at the time of the incident, and responses made accordingly.
It is the responsibility of the operator of a nuclear plant involved in an accident, to bring it under control and minimise any off-site effects. It is their obligation to assess the situation and give all guidance on countermeasures required to protect the public and the environment.
They are also responsible for notifying all the appropriate authorities.