Emergency planning arrangements for AWE’s Explosives Technology Facility

Emergency plans for the explosives technology facility at the Atomic Weapons Establishment Aldermaston have been released into the public domain (available for download at the bottom of this article) following a series of questions from Members of Parliament.

Following the fire in the explosives area at Aldermaston on 3 August 2010 Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, enquired about the emergency arrangements which were implemented in fighting the fire:

AWE Aldermaston: Fires

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reason the AWE Off-Site Contingency Arrangements were not activated to direct the response to the fire at the Atomic Weapons Establishment Aldermaston on 3 August 2010.

Peter Luff: The Atomic Weapons Establishment off-site emergency plan was not put into operation because this plan covers an incident where radioactivity is present, and there was no release of radioactive material.

The plans that were implemented were those relating to the conventional explosives area where the fire occurred. As an explosives licensed facility, its emergency plan is regulated by the Hazardous Installations Directorate, part of the Health and Safety Executive.

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place a copy of each document provided by AWE plc of written instructions and advice to firefighting personnel attending incidents at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in the Library.

Peter Luff: AWE plc does not produce separate written instructions and advice for firefighting personnel attending incidents. As part of the Defence Fire Risk Management Organisation, the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) is required to comply with instructions issued by the Home Office, the Health and Safety Executive and the Ministry of Defence.

The Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service has its own plans and documentation in respect of AWE sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield, and engages regularly with colleagues in the AWEFRS.

Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West, asked a follow-up question requesting that copies of the emergency plans for the Aldermaston explosives area be placed in the Parliamentary Library:

Atomic Weapons Establishment

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion of 9 September 2010, Official Report, column 623W, on AWE Aldermaston: fires, if he will place in the Library a copy of the Atomic Weapons Establishment emergency plan for dealing with incidents in the AWE Aldermaston conventional explosives area.

Peter Luff: Yes; copies of the document will be placed in the Library of the House. However, parts of this document are classified and will require redaction prior to its placement.

The Emergency Response Plans for the Explosives Technology Facility at AWE were eventually placed in the Library five months later on 18 April 2011 and can be downloaded here:

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