Solent Coalition Against Nuclear Ships
Westwood House, 30 Westwood Road,
Southampton SO17 1DN, Britain
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Southampton City Council (SCC) Scrutiny Committee Meeting
21 June 2006 5pm
The Scrutiny Panel heard from EPO Graham Wyeth that the Sotonsafe Plan will never actually be finished as it is a ‘work in progress’, always being revised and updated. The Panel asked about the improvements on the previous plan but accepted that they had no remit to ask that the Z Berth would not be used. It is planned to re-publish the Revised SS Plan (Issue 4) in September 2006.
A recommendation will go to the Cabinet meeting on 14th August 2006 that delegation to an officer to amend the Plan should be denied. This was said ‘to reverse an anomaly in Sotonsafe that Cabinet had not agreed that changes need to go back through the political process’. However, it is also to deny the NII power to take control of the Plan as requested. (see Point 1. below). The 14th August Cabinet will be a PUBLIC CONSULTATION and SCANS will apply to speak. No decision will be taken. A decision on Sotonsafe will be taken at a Cabinet Meeting on 4th September 2006. It is not planned to go before Full Council.
The main, non-minor changes to the 2003 Sotonsafe Plan after the Exercise are:
(i) The Emergency Services responsibilities have not changed but those of the Council are bigger than expected before the Exercise.
(ii) Responsibility for the distribution of PITS has been changed from SCC to the Royal Navy (RN). This is because it is considered too risky for SCC personnel to do as it could lead to exposure to radioactive fallout. The RN will use three distribution centres: Woolston, Weston and Hythe in the New Forest [Council District).
Other suggestions made were that the Unity multi-lingual radio station should be used to alert people of an accident and that a list of acronym meanings should be e-mailed to members of the Scrutiny Panel.
It was reported that Hythe Playgroup would not be given information about PITS as it is located outside the 2K counter-measure zone.
Two Portsmouth RN representatives attended, engineer Ian Bowker, RN – Project Manager (Nuclear), who said there had never had a submarine accident and the Press Officer, Anton Hanney who said that the submarines were not old.
The committee and EPO were not able to answer questions about remediation or the economic effect on the docks if there was a nuclear accident. Nor did they respond to the Emergency Services disclosure of serious problems identified in the exercise. For example, the basic initial communications between agencies did not work. The MoD did not even have enough toilets for their crew! The police identified serious problems with communications and staff levels.
Cl. Mizon, defending the report, saying that everyone took the issues seriously but that the council did not have the power to stop the RN using the docks.
SCANS was given time to respond to the report although had no sight of it before the meeting.
An Appendix to the Report contained the All Agency comments on Foxwater06 Exercise in very brief table form. In all, 60 problem areas were identified.An attempt has been made to translate these into plain English below.
Nuclear Installations Inspectorate 8 problems:
Wants to avoid political control by SCC
Lack of consistency of public announcements
No heating in control room
Inadequate briefing of crew for the simulation
Paper overalls not to have pins in
New properties were not included in PITS distribution plan
Inconsistency of SCC and RN PITS plans
Discrepancies on PITS walk routes and data
Southampton City Council 11 problems:
Lack of information flow leading to incident escalation
Lack of SCC/RN co-ordination on PITS
Lack of staff training
Remediation not exercised
Plan needs development
Compliance with REPPIR difficulties
Trained staff relief team needed
Failure to take messages & keep records
Communications guru needed
Press conference venue needed
Police 5 problems:
Initial call confusion
Lack of staff in Tactical Command Centre (TCC)
Lack of identification of who should receive messages in each cell of TCC
Not enough officers to evacuate the City Centre
Failure to understand jargon
Fire & Rescue 5 problems:
Failure mobile phone communications
No office space to work in
No clarity of whether an exercise or real incident
No clarity of dose levels expected
Lack of resources for crew and management
Ambulance 5 problems:
In future only one ambulance to be contaminated
Equipment not near sub. when needed
Ambulance Trust not represented at the Information Co-ordination Centre
Doctors, paramedics and key staff need training
Not enough staff and equipment near the Z berth
ABP 3 problems:
Need for info. overhead screen for nuclear accident response information management system
Only one usable vehicle – resolved in April 06
Docks cordon not secure
Primary Care Trust 2 problems:
Lack of inter-agency communication
No representative at the Tactical Command Centre
Hampshire County Council 2 problems:
Unable to evacuation of workers from the ?Port Countermeasure Zone
Facilities needed at Appletree Court
Health Protection Agency (formerly NRPB) 4 problems:
Failure of own alerting process
No log forms
Not enough staff
Failure of mobile phone communications [ACCOLC Access Overload Control [for cellular radio telephones]. See description in 2.3.2: Planning for major incidents: the NHS guidance ]
DISTAFF-SONART (MOD DIRECT STAFF): I problem:
Not able to interpret Transportable Radioactive Monitoring System (TRAMS) data and delay in finding anyone who could do so.
MOD/DSTL (Defence Science & Technology Laboratory) NAVAL REGULATOR 14 problems:
Communications interference from nearby offices as site is not an MOD base
Courier capability failure [When phones don’t work? Ed.]
Personal protective equipment (PPE) used by Emergency Services not returned to Naval Local emergency Monitoring Team (LEMIT)
Police liaision failure
Lack of toilets
Not enough phone lines for computer communication with Nuclear Accident Response Information Managing System (NARIMS)
Map grid references were not used
What was the Health Protection Agency meant to do at the Exclusion Zone Reception Centre (EZRC)? And another person who didn’t know what to do
Dose graphs difficult to understand
MOD communications failure
Didn’t know which way round submarine was supposed to be berthed or where access hatch was
No-one knew what dose they were likely to be getting as dose rate information not understandable – no-one to take responsibility
Proposal to add another layer of agency (to make things even more complicated?)
Procedural failure in Navy hand over and briefing to Fire Service before allowing them on site to attend to the fire
Given the seriousness of the MoD and other Agency failures in this exercise, it is impossible to see how the NII considered the plan was ‘fit for purpose’.
The Sotonsafe Plan will have to be re-tested after all the problems have been addressed before any risk can be taken by allowing a submarine into Southampton Docks. The Exercise report shows that if this plan were to be relied upon, chaos would ensue, since the Emergency Services could not properly communicate with each other, the radiation levels were not known and people did not know what they were supposed to do. Lives could be lost and exposure to radiation suffered needlessly through lack of public protection from radiation exposure.
June 30th 2006