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Nuclear emergency paper

Defence nuclear emergency response – what the Government will do after something goes wrong to nuclear power stations or its bombs – is set out in an official publication.

Covered are exercises, media and communications in such an emergency, and co-ordination, command, and control.

The document does not detail what physical security is in place for ‘nuclear materials or assets’. The document does say that the aim of the ‘physical security measures is to exercise positive control over unauthorised access to nuclear assets or materials and to preclude damage, sabotage, espionage, theft, diversion or unauthorised detonation. Duty Holders are to ensure that plans for responding to incidents or emergencies involving Defence nuclear materials or assets include, as appropriate, effective arrangements to ensure that positive control can continue to be exercised over the assets or materials involved or affected. Where the incident or emergency occurs outside MOD [Ministry of Defence] property, security and / or control arrangements are to be integrated with those of the civilian police’.

According to the 50-page paper, it is UK policy to neither confirm nor deny (NCND) the presence or absence of nuclear weapons at any particular place or time; information on this subject is generally classified secret.

Accidents with off-site risk are defined as level five of seven – Chernobyl being level seven. Such level five accidents include Three Mile Island in the USA and in the UK at Windscale (now Sellafield) in 1957. In more detail level five is defined as ‘External release of radioactive material (in quantities radiologically equivalent to the order of hundreds to thousands of terabecquerels of iodine-131). Such a release would be likely to result in partial implementation of countermeasures covered by emergency plans to lessen the likelihood of health effects’. As comparison, level zero events have no safety significance, and level one rates as only ‘anomaly’.

Visit the MoD website to read in full.


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