NFLA Nuclear Emergency Planning Briefing

NFLA nuclear emergency panning briefing calls for greater openness and transparency. it questions whether the UK could cope with a Fukushima scale accident

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 teaming 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 probabilistic risk assessment, which was found wanting in Japan – in pro-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 ‘lNES 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 — ‘muddiing 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 McNeiliy, (2) the regulation of Ministry of Defence nuclear programmes should be brought under an independent civilian regulator like the Office for Nuclear Regulation.

NFLA Media release »- for immediate release, 30th June 2015