A NUCLEAR liaison group is calling for an extension of the emergency zone around the Sizewell power station site in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan. The Sizewell Stakeholder Group (SSG) – set up to improve the flow of information between the site and its neighbours – also wants consideration given to a full-scale mock evacuation involving the local population. In addition, it is calling for the routine issue of anti-radiation tablets to be extended to local schools, whether or not they lie within any revised emergency zone.At present the Sizewell emergency zone – the area subject to a detailed major accident response plan – extends to just 2.4 kilometres, within which up to 900 people live or work, depending on the season. The zone does not cover most of the built-up area of Leiston and its four schools.
As a result of the Fukushima disaster last year, 170,000 people were evacuated from within a 20-km radius and thousands more self-evacuated from a wider area. Suffolk’s emergency planning committee is undertaking a routine review of the Sizewell plan and will be taking into account the lessons learned in Japan.
The SSG also wants more information on potential radiation doses from a Sizewell accident to be made available. It says in a letter to be sent to emergency planners this week: “While the SSG does not feel competent to propose an exact area which should form an extended emergency planning zone, it does feel that an area of up to 20 kilometres should be considered.”
Andy Osman, head of emergency planning for Suffolk County Council, said: “I will be looking at emergency planning zones as part of the review of the Sizewell off-site emergency arrangements, but I am still waiting for the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to confirm what changed guidance I should be applying based on the UK learning of the events in Fukushima.”Mr Osman said that under Government regulations, Suffolk County Council could not make a “unilateral” change. He urged members of the public to consult the plan on line at: www.suffolkre-silience.com/plans/sizewell.html.
An ONR spokesman said emergency planning zones-typical around a nuclear site-were designed to be extendable if necessary.
However, the ONR was determined that the UK nuclear industry would learn the lessons from the Fukushima accident and was in discussion with both the Nuclear Emergencies Planning Liaison Group and the DECC as to what changes might be appropriate.
East Anglian Daily Times Monday, March 5,2012 www.eadt.co.uk