The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has revised the area around the Wylfa Nuclear Licensed Site where local emergency planning is required for the unlikely event of a radiation emergency. The change is due to a changed methodology for calculating these areas.
ONR’s assessment of the radiation hazards on the site and the risk that they present to the public recognises that the overall risk has actually decreased since the off-site emergency planning area was originally defined. However, the size of the area and the number of people within it has increased slightly due to ONR applying its new principles for determinations. Isle of Anglesey County Council (IACC), as the lead local authority, has a requirement to have an emergency plan to protect the public for the revised area.
The revised off-site emergency planning area has been increased in size from a circle with a 1.6 km radius from the centre of the site, to the new area defined by ONR. This will allow the local authority to develop an enhanced plan that will result in improved public protection.
Donald Urquhart, ONR Programme Director, said: “ONR’s recent assessment of the radiation risks and hazards from the Wylfa Nuclear Licensed Site confirm that, as expected, the overall radiation risks to the public from the site have decreased since the reactor ceased operating in December 2015. However, this assessment confirms that a radiation emergency is still possible during the defueling phase of its life cycle and the statutory requirements for an off-site emergency planning area will therefore remain in place.”
“Following our revised principles for defining off-site emergency planning areas, ONR inspectors have assessed Magnox Ltd’s detailed evaluation of the current radiation hazards at the site and worked with Isle of Anglesey County Council emergency planners to ensure that existing good practice and practical considerations relevant to the extent of the area have been taken into account. The result, incorporating enhanced public protection, is a revised REPPIR off-site emergency planning area which is slightly larger than the previous area, and in particular now requires consideration of all residents living in Tregele and Camaes.”
Mr Urquhart continued, “Since the reactor is no longer operating, potassium iodate tablets are no longer a necessary countermeasure in the vicinity of the site. Magnox Ltd., on behalf of the Council, will be writing to residents to whom the tablets were previously issued in order to facilitate their withdrawal and explain this change. The letter will also outline that additional changes to the off-site emergency plan will be made as a result of the ONR re-determination of the area.”
The revised off-site emergency planning and prior information area is now a land area defined by geographical features located approximately 2.5 km from the centre of the Wylfa licensed site. It includes the villages of Tregele and Cemaes, and an approximately rectangular seaward area that commences at the points where the land area reaches the coast, and extends north for approximately 1 km out to sea.
ONR has written to IACC and the operators advising them of the decision. The Council will revise their off-site emergency plan in consultation with the other emergency responders to ensure appropriate arrangements are in place throughout the new area. REPPIR requires the Council to revise their off-site emergency plan within six months of the determination (although ONR may agree to extend this).