On Wednesday 22nd February 2006 a nuclear accident exercise will take place in Southampton. The Navy aims to prove that in the event of a nuclear reactor accident in a submarine moored at a "Z Berth", people will be protected from radiation. Protection is offered by advising people to take shelter and to self-evacuate from shopping areas in the town. In addition Potassium Iodate Tablets (PITS) will be distributed to everyone within a 2 Kilometre radius of the Z Berth. The so-called ‘Foxwater06’ exercise will largely simulate these events with a table-top exercise. However, in order to test the PITS distribution, naval ratings will walk the streets and try to locate every letterbox in a residential area as part of the exercise.
Solent Coalition Against Nuclear Ships (SCANS) plans to monitor the exercise and report back to Southampton Council who are running the local authority side of the exercise.
According to SCANS, the HSE’s Nuclear Installations Inspectorate is likely to approve the exercise because it is not actually empowered to limit naval operations, however "unsafe" they may be.
"Tax payers money is being wasted on testing a procedure that is hopelessly inadequate to cope with a real nuclear accident. "
"This is not a naval base and there can be no operational exceptions to the safety maxim of the precautionary principle. In plain English – keep nuclear ships out of busy commercial docks." said David Hoadley, SCANS Chair.