SCANS Newsletter, December 2005

Navy plan to end 5 years of NUCLEAR FREE Docks

Dear Friends
You may know of SCANS’ success in keeping nuclear submarines out of the so-called ‘Z Berth’ in Southampton Docks since 2000. Legal and technical experts presented evidence on your behalf to Southampton City Council on the real hazards of a nuclear submarine accident.

In May 2001 the Council withdrew the Sotonsafe plan, ending the use of the docks for nuclear submarines.  Since then, SCANS has continued to advise the Council and is recognised as a Consultee to the Scrutiny Committee.

Currently there are no Z Berths in England, other than at Portsmouth and Plymouth naval bases. The City of Liverpool’s ‘Z Berth’ is in abeyance until the Navy can point to Southampton as a model for using a commercial port as a naval base.

The MoD has now changed its reason to use Southampton Docks from “recreational “ to “operational” use, forcing the Council to accept responsibility for the Navy’s Sotonsafe nuclear exercise, cosily named “Foxwater06”, which is to be tested on 22nd February 2006.

We now need public support again, and hope that you will help us by encouraging people to join to protect Southampton from this nuclear risk.

With Season’s Greetings for a Nuclear Free New Year
Yours sincerely

David Hoadley
Chair of SCANS




A real accident (as confirmed by the RN in their “BR6” training scenario) could involve a rapid breach of the reactor compartment followed by the release of considerable amounts of radiation to be distributed over a very wide area by the wind.  The exercise will, however, involve no breach of the reactor compartment, only a very leisurely build up of the “incident” and containment of radiation to the immediate vicinity of the Z Berth.

A real accident would require the RN to distribute Potassium Iodate Tablets (PITs) to 1000’s of households within a 2 km zone (and possibly much further).  But the exercise will involve a small number of RN personnel pretending to distribute PITs to a small area of Woolston.

A real accident would almost certainly require all road, rail, air and shipping movements to be prevented from entering all or large areas of Southampton and the surrounding areas – with resulting gridlock and panic.  However, in the exercise there will not even be the diversion of road traffic from the Z Berth area or the nearby Oceanography Centre.

A real incident would involve local radio and TV broadcasting instructions to the public with unknown consequences as to the panic and flight such broadcasts would cause. In this exercise the media will not be involved at all and the general public will have absolutely no idea that an exercise is taking place.

A real incident would require teachers to administer PITs to children and keep them “sheltered” within the school building.  In reality parents would probably ignore advice and try to retrieve and evacuate their children from nearby schools. This exercise will take place at half term and the school plan will not be tested.

A real incident would put considerable strain on the NHS.  Depending on the severity of the radiation release, the hospitals may need to cancel all operations for an indefinite period, discharge and or evacuate existing in-patients and concentrate their resources to deal with radiation victims – with resulting long-term decontamination problems.  In the exercise the local hospitals will not be asked to deviate in any way from their business-as-usual routine.


Nuclear Exercise 
22 February 2006

SCANS has been refused the role as Observer in the Nuclear Accident Exercise on Wednesday 22nd February 2006. However there are several aspects of the Exercise that we can monitor. At Dock Gate 4, we can see how the Exercise tests restricted access to the ‘Z Berth’. We can monitor the civil and naval traffic associated with the Exercise and possibly interview some of the participants. In Woolston, Naval ratings are to walk the streets, identifying every domestic and commercial letterbox and pretending to post PITS (to protect the thyroid gland from soaking up radiation) to every household. PITS will also be pre-distributed to schools and residential homes within a 2.5Km radius of the berth, reaching Northam, Woolston and Hythe.

SCANS Observers are needed on the day, to be a visible presence, with Observer tabards and clip boards, recording what we can of this Exercise. In order to publish a report and make recommendations, we need raw data on the actual level of Exercise activity. SCANS will evaluate whether or not the Exercise tests the ability of planners to protect the public.

Please volunteer a couple of hours to join the SCANS Observer Team on 22nd February. The first Briefing Session will take place at 8.00pm on Monday 12th December at the Friends Meeting House, during the SCANS meeting. Please bring suggestions, questions and support for this practical way to really protect our city from the risks associated with nuclear submarines using Southampton Docks. If you can’t attend, you can still volunteer by ringing 80554434.

Solent Coalition Against Nuclear Ships
30 Westwood Road Southampton SO17 1DN
tel/fax: +44 (0)2380 554434  m: 07880 557035

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