Sizewell A and B: Consultation responses regarding changes to nuclear safety procedures revealed

Sizewell B

Sizewell B - Credit: Archant

RESULTS of a public consultation scrutinising proposed changes to safety procedures should there be an incident at one of Suffolk’s nuclear power stations have been revealed.

The majority of the 292 responses - from residents, town and parish councils and other interested parties - were in favour of the plans, which set out what to do if there is an emergency at either Sizewell A or B.

The consultation was launched by The Suffolk Resilience Forum (SRF), which is responsible for drawing up safety procedures for the county’s nuclear sites, as part of a routine three-yearly review.

It proposes extending the current emergency zone from 2.4km to 4km - in line with international guidelines.

Residents who live in this area would receive regular information on emergency actions and would be the first priority in the event of an incident. A total of 207 (74%) of those who responded to the consultation agreed with the recommendation. Some 50 people (18%) were opposed, while 24 (8%) were “neutral”. There had been a feeling among some that 4km was too small an area, with one response describing it as “woefully inadequate” and another as “ridiculously restrictive”, especially as at events elsewhere, including the Fukushima disaster in Japan, people were evacuated within a 40km radius.

The proposals also outline setting up a “precautionary” emergency planning zone of up to 15kms to improve awareness of arrangements and allow a quicker extension of any emergency response in more extreme situations. Again, this was widely backed (76%) but there were some opposed (16%), with the main concern again that the area should be made larger.

There are also plans to increase capacity for evacuation, with more rest centres and radiation monitoring and to widen the list of pre-identified vulnerable groups who might be evacuated to include playgroups and care homes.

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Bosses are also keen to ask people’s views on the best way to receive information on actions to take in the event of an incident.

Andy Fry, Suffolk County Council’s director of public protection, said: “In overall terms, the comments received have strongly supported our proposals and some interesting observations have also been made.

“The consultation process is about ensuring we provide the best possible safety arrangements in the extremely unlikely event of an emergency situation. “A key part of this was to invite residents and other stakeholders to have their say, which they have done in significant numbers and I am thankful for all comments received.”

The SRF - made up of local councils, emergency services, health authorities and the Environment Agency - will make a final decision on its plan in August, with a view to publishing at the start of September, after receiving guidance of updated national policy from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).

Suffolk is the first county to consider changes to its emergency procedures since the release of the report into the Fukushima disaster.

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