Learn how to prepare for a radiation emergency
Learn how to respond to a radiation emergency. Go this way if currently affected by a radiation emergency
Read the "prior information" the regulations say you should have
Learn more of the science
More information from practitioners
This web-site is intended to be a useful resource for helping the public understand how to stay safe in a nuclear emergency.
It is written by Keith Pearce, owner and principle consultant of Katmal Limited.
Please contact me to discuss any ideas you have to make this a better resource.
It starts with a very simple overview of the protective actions that can be taken should a nuclear emergency happen and then explain in ever more detail the reasons for these protective actions.
A note on navigation This web-site contains a lot of hyperlinks which take you to another place, usually to drill down into deeper information. They are not always within this web-site. These links are shown in a underlined blue. It is easy to get lost. Your browser's "back button" will work to take you back along your path. Navigation is provided at the top of the page. The internet changes; the websites referred to were there last time I looked for them. They are all to reputable sites, so should be safe in every sense of the word but I cannpt guarentee that.
This site is under construction. Most of it is not here yet. A lot of links will go nowhere. Sorry
A Radiation Emergency is a non-routine situation or event arising from work with ionising radiation that necessitates prompt action to reduce the
consequences. The consequences in question could be harm to human life or health, environmental harm, economic harm or harm to quality of life.
The "prompt action" referred to in this definition may include one or several "Protective Actions" which are action or actions taken in order to prevent or reduce the exposure of emergency workers, members of the public, the environment or the contamination of property from ionising radiation in the event of a radiation emergency. (REPPIR Reg 2(1)).
From the public point of view a radiation emergency becomes of serious concern when they are near a nuclear site (or other source of radioactive material) that is releasing radioactive material in significantly larger amounts than is normal such that those members of the public are asked to take measures (shelter, stable iodine, evacuation, food controls) to reduce their dose.
There are three main types of radiation emergency related to the nuclear licensed sites to consider:
In the first two events the public can take simple steps to reduce their radiation exposure and an important component of off-site plans is the generation and promulgation
of advice to the public on these steps and then provision of support to affected members of the public.
[[Protective Actions | See Protective Actions for more details of these protective actions]].
Beyond the nuclear licensed sites there is the remote possibility of:
It is obvious that any advice given to the public in the event of a radiation emergency will be more effective if the public can hear the advice,
can understand the advice and can and do act upon it in an effective manner. This is the justification for REPPIR Regulation 22 "Duty of local authority
to supply information to the public in the event of an emergency".
It is also widely believed, and highly credible, that the public will be better at hearing, understanding and responding to advice if they have been told in advance (with periodic reminders) about the situations in which advice might be given, how it would be given, what it might ask the public to do and what support is available to help them prepare and then to respond. This is the justification for REPPIR Regulation 21 "Prior Information to the Public".
Someone caught in the areas affected by a radiation emergency will want to achieve a number of things, including:
The first of these is really about understanding the situation, about communication and about a little bit of preparation.
This Website is intended explain the risks involved in living or working near a nuclear site, the nature of Radiation Emergencies (the term the regulations use instead of nuclear accident), how some simple preparations could make your response more effective and how to respond on the day if you are alerted to a Radiation Emergency affecting you or your family and friends.
It works by giving a brief overview of the situation which assumes some knowledge but adds layers of understanding by using links to deeper information.
If there is a radiation emergency anywhere in the UK the response will follow the pattern given in a document widely known as "Conops"
Central government’s Concept of Operations).
The operator, aided by the emergency services as needed and monitored by the regulators, is responsible for actions on-site to bring the event to a safe end-point, protect the public by minimising the release, protect their personnel and provide information and advice to the off-site authorities.
The Off-site response will be co-ordinated in a facility called the Strategic Coordination Centre (SCC) which is attended by the local authority, the emergency services, the regulators, the health service and various government departments and advisors. It is here that the advice to the public is agreed and promulgated.
The off-site response can reach upwards to central government for support if required.
An outline of the UK's radiological and civil nuclear safety regime can be found on the BEIS website
How we regulate radiological and civil nuclear safety in the UK (webpage)
Emergency preparedness and response arrangements are based on the central government’s Concept of Operation. The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (CCA)
and the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2019 (REPPIR19) provide the regulatory framework.
The Civil Contingencies Act and accompanying non-legislative measures, delivers a single framework for civil protection in the UK. It identifies Category 1 responders, with requirements to assess risk, make plans and exercise response, and Category 2 responders expected to support the effort and with planning and response roles for particular events in their sector. See the government web-site for more information.
The REPPIR Regulations (REPPIR-19) places duties on operators and Local Authorities to put in place proportionate plans onsite and offsite. The regulations require the operator to make a detailed evaluation of the hazards posed from their activities and the potential consequences, to provide sufficient information to the relevant Local Authority to allow a detailed emergency planning zone (DEPZ) to be determined.
For defence nuclear emergency response see JSP 471.