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Devonport emergency planning areas

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has revised the areas around Devonport for which the local authority is required to prepare emergency plans to support the management of a radiation emergency in relation to nuclear powered submarines.

ONR has responsibility for determining these areas under the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 (REPPIR). The determination of emergency planning areas is required in order to protect the public in the unlikely event of a radiation emergency.

ONR has reviewed the latest assessments of the potential risk to the public should there be a radiation accident at the sites and concluded that the basis for emergency planning has not changed since previous reviews. However, in order to further improve public protection planning arrangements, the proportionate application of ONR’s revised principles  has resulted in a change to the areas it has determined.

The revised areas are located around the Devonport site itself and around specific submarine berths in Plymouth Sound.These are the areas within which the lead local authority, in this case Plymouth City Council (PCC), is required to have an emergency plan in place to protect the public.

Donald Urquhart, ONR Programme Director, said: “ONR inspectors have reviewed detailed evaluations prepared by the Devonport Royal Dockyard Limited (DRDL) and Her Majesty’s Naval Base Devonport ((HMNB(D)). The results of the latest evaluations of the radiation hazards associated with the nuclear powered submarines that may berth at Devonport have been compared to previous assessments, and ONR has concluded that the risks identified have not changed the basis for emergency planning.

“By applying our revised principles for determining off-site emergency planning areas in a proportionate manner, we believe that the REPPIR emergency planning areas we have defined are in the best interests of securing public safety and to support practical emergency planning. This is as a result of our work with Plymouth City Council and other duty holders to ensure that existing good practice and practical considerations relevant to the area have been taken fully into account.”

ONR has written to PCC and the operators advising them of the decision. The Council will revise their off-site emergency plan, in consultation with the other emergency responders, to ensure proportionate arrangements are in place throughout the new areas. 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).

As part of PCC’s REPPIR off-site emergency planning requirements, HMNB(D) and DRDL have arrangements in place to provide urgent countermeasures to people living closest to the relevant submarine berths. HMNB(D) and DRDL will work closely with PCC and other responders to ensure that their arrangements continue to complement the local authority emergency plan.