The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) publishes today its analysis of UK / European nuclear emergency planning four and a half years after the Fukushima disaster. The Policy Briefing is the second of a trio of nuclear policy briefings – the others being on nuclear safety and nuclear security – which challenge the new UK Government and nuclear regulatory agencies to consider fundamental changes as a result of specific issues the Fukushima disaster has raised. (1)
NFLA Policy Briefing 133 on nuclear emergency planning considers the key learning points that have arisen from the Fukushima disaster. It profiles civil society reports by Fukushima groups and by Nuclear Transparency Watch which outline in great detail the huge logistical problems created by such a level of disaster and an inconsistency of approach in Europe to them.
The briefing also considers the debate about probabalistic risk assessment, which was found wanting in Japan – in pre-planning the regulatory risk assessments underestimated the level of a tsunami wave and sea walls were not high enough to withstand the wave. The report notes assessments from a number of influential nuclear physicists argues the potential for a similar type of disaster is much more prevalent than the industry claims, and that the safety claims of new nuclear reactors are overblown.
The briefing then considers the UK nuclear emergency planning regime and calls for significant change to national nuclear plans, particularly the REPPIR (Radiation Emergency Planning and Public Information) Regulations. NFLA argue only a minor review of REPPIR has taken place, and a fuller response is required. NFLA are also frustrated with the lack of openness and transparency from Government, nuclear regulators and the industry, which make it difficult to fully analyse the effectiveness of post-Fukushima changes. A full independent review is called for.
Other conclusions of the report include:
- The ‘nuclear community’ needs to recognise the shortcomings in emergency planning arrangements for a catastrophic ‘INES 7’ type of incident (the largest scale of incident).
- There should be a complete review of the REPPIR emergency planning regulations. Given the changes made recently with similar COMAH regulations for chemical installations, now is the time for a full update and possible legislative change of REPPIR.
- The UK Government and Devolved Governments must engage more actively with communities affected by nuclear programmes, all potentially affected local authorities (across a much wider area than at present), and local NGOs.
- The UK Government, with the nuclear regulatory agencies, needs to review emergency planning policies and set a defined standard of service for emergency arrangements which will protect people and society from the hazards of the nuclear industry.
- Local authorities, NGOs and the affected public need to request clarification and certainty from central government agencies – ‘muddling through’ is simply not good enough.
- There also needs to be pressure for improvement and openness at the political level to encourage a more open and transparent culture, where possible and practical, within nuclear emergency planning.
- Given the wider concern noted by defence nuclear exercises, and the recent allegations by Abel Seaman William McNeilly, (2) the regulation of Ministry of Defence nuclear programmes should be brought under an independent civilian regulator like the Office for Nuclear Regulation.
- A review of the effect of major financial cuts on emergency planning units in local government and the emergency services should be undertaken by the new Government and / or the Emergency Planning Society (EPS).
NFLA Chair Councillor Mark Hackett said:
This NFLA Policy Briefing provides a detailed analysis on the national and international nuclear emergency planning regime. It shows comprehensively that Fukushima is a game changer for the UK nuclear industry, but that the reforms that have been made remain piecemeal, limited and fragmented. There is also a real need to increase openness and transparency in nuclear emergency planning, or at the very least conduct an independent analysis of the nuclear emergency planning system in the UK. I have asked for this report to go to the new UK Energy Minister Amber Rudd and nuclear regulators for their comment and challenge. This is another clear example of how NFLA is continuing to represent its members by providing the highest quality research across an important area of relevant nuclear policy.”
For more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary on 0161 234 3244 or 07771 930196.
Notes for editors:
(1) NFLA Policy Briefing 133 on the Fukushima disaster and its impact on UK / European nuclear emergency planning is attached with this media release. It will be placed on the NFLA website http://www.nuclearpolicy.info in the ‘NFLA General Policy Briefings’ section. Reports on nuclear safety can be found in this section and a third report on nuclear security will be published shortly. They are a trio of NFLA’s post-election nuclear policy reports.
(2) Sunday Herald 17th May 2015
Further information on:
RobEdwards.com 17th May 2015