Yard exercise to test response to nuclear accident
A NUCLEAR accident response exercise will be staged in Devonport this week.
As a routine part of the Ministry of Defence and Plymouth City Council's contingency planning, a one-day nuclear accident response exercise will take place tomorrow.
Codenamed Exercise Short Sermon, the event is designed to test the procedures in place for dealing with a nuclear reactor accident involving a nuclear-powered submarine at Devonport Naval Base.
During the day personnel from approximately 27 agencies will be responding at operational, tactical and strategic levels in Plymouth, Truro and Exeter.
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Agencies participating include Plymouth City Council, Cornwall Council, Devon and Cornwall Police, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, South West Ambulance Service Trust, NHS England, South West Water, The Highways Agency, British Transport Police, Environment Agency, The Health Protection Agency, Met Office and the Department for Energy and Climate Change Radiation Information Monitoring Network.
Part of the exercise will include the distribution of simulated potassium iodate tablets in selected areas outside the Devonport site and this will be achieved by teams of Royal Navy personnel delivering notices through letter boxes.
The exact areas involved in this part of the exercise will depend on weather conditions. If members of the public receive notices through their letter boxes there is no need for them to take any action, Devon and Cornwall Police said.
Captain Steve French, Naval Base Captain Safety, said: "The Devonport site has a good nuclear safety record. In over 50 years of operations there has never been a reactor accident involving a Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarine which has required these emergency arrangements.
"Nevertheless, the Ministry of Defence, Babcock and Plymouth City Council have, in accordance with UK legislation, developed detailed plans to ensure a swift and effective response to such an accident in Plymouth."
Tracey Lee, Plymouth City Council's chief executive, said the exercise would be a "very thorough" test of the council's multi-agency nuclear accident response plan.
Devon and Cornwall Assistant Chief Constable Andy Bickley will be the police and overall incident commander for the exercise.