Call made for full test of emergency evacuation of Sizewell B


Sizewell - Credit: Archant

Public protection officials are being urged to hold a similar emergency exercise in the Sizewell area as that just carried out in Japan where the country’s first nuclear reactor has been allowed to restart following the Fukushima disaster four years ago.

About 1,200 residents living within five kilometres of the Sendai nuclear power plant were evacuated by buses and other vehicles while people in homes up to 30km away underwent emergency drills.

The exercise, based on an earthquake scenario, also involved hundreds of emergency services staff.

Pete Wilkinson, a co-opted member of the Sizewell Stakeholder Group, said while an earthquake was unlikely to strike Suffolk other unforeseen events could endanger the Sizewell site and the local population.

Emergency plans drawn up to protect the population set out procedures for ensuring the safety of the public in the event of a major release of radioactivity but people living or working locally had never been involved in any evacuation exercise, he said..

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“In order to ensure that emergency plans are capable of protecting people, perhaps the Office for Nuclear Regulation and Suffolk County Council could advise the SSG when a similar exercise involving the evacuation of people in the extended area around Sizewell B will take place. In my opinion a refusal to do so would amount to a dereliction of duty,” said Mr Wilkinson.

An ONR spokesperson said the county council was required to undertake a test of the off-site emergency plan for Sizewell every three years.

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The spokesperson said: “Should the council wish to undertake an exercise involving members of the public then ONR will consider this as we would any other proposal. However, evacuation is a disruptive practice in terms of costs to businesses and personal intrusion.

“It is considered that these disadvantages outweigh any benefits from exercising evacuation for real.”

No-one was available for comment in the county council’s emergency planning department.

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