Protecting the public

Safety is our number one priority. Nuclear power stations are highly regulated in all security and safety matters. Our safety standards are rightly very high and our emergency arrangements are rigorously planned and rehearsed.

There are three main obligations:

  1. Moral: we have a moral duty to protect both personnel on site and the public. We must have robust emergency plans and demonstrate them to the outside agencies and the public.
  2. Legal: under the Nuclear Installations Act, Ionising Radiation Regulations 1999, Radiation Emergency Preparedness and Public Information Regulation (REPPIR), we must ensure safe operations by preventing accidents happening and make arrangements to respond to an emergency should one occur.
  3. Commercial: a successful company is also a safe company, so it is in our interest to make very effective emergency arrangements that can respond to accidents to manage business continuity effectively.

To meet these obligations, the approach we use combines EDF Energy's own expertise with the coordinated national approach of the emergency services, local authorities and Government agencies.

EDF has four priorities to protect in an emergency:

  • Firstly the public, by alerting off-site organisations of any countermeasures necessary to protect the public and providing information prior to and during an emergency event.
  • Secondly, personnel on site, by ensuring that personnel are adequately protected and accounted for.
  • Thirdly, the environment, by monitoring the environment in and around the affected site.
  • And finally, the plant, by dealing with any plant damage and returning the plant to a safe state

Emergency exercises

EDF performs a regular programme of emergency exercises to test its procedures, facilities, systems and equipment and enable everyone to practise their role in an emergency. Emergency exercises are also the main way that we demonstrate the effectiveness of our emergency arrangements to the regulator and external agencies.

There are three main types of regulatory exercises, which have evolved in the nuclear industry: Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. These regulatory exercises vary in the involvement of organisations locally and nationally.

Training

Emergency response role training is an important part of the emergency exercises and ensures each member is confident in their role and the tasks that they would be required to carry out in an emergency. Each role has a number of key training modules to be completed. Each shift working team completes emergency response role training once a year as part of the training programme.

A Level 1 exercise involves all station staff, visitors and contractors and will take up to six hours to complete. This type of exercise takes place annually and demonstrates existing emergency arrangements to the Office for Nuclear Regulation.

A Level 2 exercise demonstrates how the Strategic Co-ordination Centre (SCC) and the Central Emergency Support Centre (CESC) deal with the off-site implications of an emergency. A Level 2 exercise involves the CESC, SCC, Media Briefing Centre, the emergency services and other external organisations and will occupy at least a full working day. A desktop exercise in the site Emergency Control Centre (ECC) drives a Level 2 exercise, and these take place every three years for each SCC.

A Level 3 exercise involves all the organisations in a Level 2 exercise, but also includes full Government departmental involvement. These exercises may occur over several days and may move into the recovery phase of the emergency.

Transport exercises

EDF is required by the Office for Nuclear Regulation to have suitable emergency arrangements in place for responding to transport incidents.

Transport exercises are a demonstration of the effectiveness of emergency arrangements for a transport incident. These are generally joint exercises involving EDF, the emergency services and local and national agencies to exercise the EDF response to a transport incident.
Training days are held to link in all the responders who would be involved in such an exercise. EDF take part in RADSAFE exercises at least once a year.

RADSAFE forms a part of the EDF Transport Emergency Arrangements.

For more information, visit the RADSAFE website.

Informing the public

EDF has an open information policy regarding emergency arrangements through consultation groups such as the Local Community Liaison Council, Local Liaison Committee and Site Stakeholder Group.

An important aspect of the emergency arrangements is to inform the public of actions to be taken if a radiation emergency were to occur at one of our nuclear power stations. The Radiation (Emergency Preparedness & Public Information) Regulations 2019 (REPPIR) places a duty on local authorities to warn and inform the public of the risks, and the actions they may need to take in an emergency. 

EDF supports the local authorities by producing this information for each site. At most sites the information is provided as part of an annual calendar. The information provided covers: 

  • Facts about ionising radiation and its effects on persons and the environment
  • Types of radiation emergency that could occur and their consequences 
  • Protective actions to alert, protect and assist the public in the event of a radiation emergency
  • Information on protective actions to be taken by the public in the event of a radiation emergency
  • Arrangements for specific groups of people
  • What will happen after an event
  • Information on Detailed and Outline Planning Zones 

 

Initial advice is similar to any civil disaster:

Go in, stay in, tune in

 

The advice given to local residents includes detailed information on the actions which should be taken, including information on potassium iodate tablets, and further useful information should evacuation measures be undertaken.

 

During an emergency event, the local and national radio and TV media would play an important role in conveying information to the public regarding the ongoing situation. The co-ordination of the multi-agency response to the media forms an important part of the local authorities’ off-site plan. These arrangements are tested during Level 2 and Level 3 exercises.

More information