Local authorities have responsibilities under the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001. These regulations are being revised with new regulations, a new code of practice and new guidance all expected within the year.
A draft of REPPIR 2019 and information about the consultation exercise can be found here. More recent drafts of the regulation and guidance are available to some.
Major changes when compared to REPPIR 2001 include a greatly increased role for the local authority in determining the area to be covered by detailed planning – the Detailed Emergency Planning Zone (DEPZ). Previously this has been set by the ONR in consultation with the site operators and local authority but the new Regulation 8 requires the local authority to determine the area on the basis of a consequence report from the operator and their local knowledge. This is potentially an onerous and controversial activity.
Detailed emergency planning zone
8.—(1) The local authority must determine the detailed emergency planning zone on the basis of the operator’s proposal under regulation 7(2) and may extend that area in consideration of –
(a) local geographic, demographic and practical implementation issues;
(b) the need to avoid, where practical, the bisection of local communities; and
(c) the inclusion of vulnerable groups immediately adjacent to the area proposed by the operator.
(2) However, the local authority and operator may agree that, in relation to the premises, other arrangements are in place which sufficiently mitigate the consequences of any radiation emergency, and that no detailed emergency planning zone is necessary.
(3) The local authority must inform the operator and the regulator, within two months of having been sent the consequences report under regulation 7, of the determination made under paragraph (1).
(4) Where the local authority and the operator have agreed that no detailed emergency planning zone is necessary in accordance with paragraph (3), the local authority must inform the regulator as soon as reasonably practicable.(5) On receipt of the local authority’s confirmation of the detailed emergency planning zone, the operator must record the detailed emergency planning zone as finalised.
(6) The local authority may re-determine the detailed emergency planning zone—
(a) if there is a material change in the local area which necessitates such a change; or
(b) if the local authority deems it appropriate as a consequence of the operator’s consequences report made after an evaluation in accordance with regulation 6(1) or 6(2)(a).
(7) If the local authority re-determines the detailed emergency planning zone in accordance with paragraph (6), it must inform the operator and regulator as soon as reasonably practicable.
The local authority are not expected to have the deep technical understanding of the site safety case that the operator and regulator have so it is a surprise that they have the duty to set the DEPZ. The operator will provide a Consequences Report which will presumably tell the local authority the distance downwind that they expect ERLs to be exceeded in a number of different faults if events unfold exactly as given in the site’s safety cases and the operator’s dose assessment methodology was spot on with its predictions. Using this table of distances and the accompanying estimates of probability of each fault and combining it with local knowledge of population distribution the local authority can determine where prompt action may avert a useful amount of dose. This is the area where detailed plans are appropriate.
It is stated that “Close attention should be paid to areas where the projected doses approach 100 mSv (Schedule 7, Part 2, 2(d)”. This latter sentence is included because there is an international consensus developing that doses up to 100 mSv in an emergency are unwelcome but unlikely to produce real health effects while doses any higher start to get more worrying (although you can go quite a bit higher before the effects become obvious). It is therefore advised that emergency plans should be designed to keep doses below 100 mSv where reasonably practical. An important part of the setting of the DEPZ would be to identify where, and to whom, a projected dose of 100 mSv or more would result from a given scenario and then consider what could be done to reduce the dose in in the time available. This would set the targets for speed of implementation of any countermeasures.
The local authority are given the following guidance in the draft guidance document:
Para 172 “To determine the boundary of the detailed emergency planning zone, the local authority may adopt an approach as follows:
- review the consequences report provided by the operator;
- produce proposed detailed emergency planning zone maps based on the consequences report, current planning arrangements and local geographic, demographic and practical implementation issues identified; and
- liaise with relevant organisations to identify any issues or improvements to the detailed emergency planning area boundary/boundaries (for example emergency responders, regulators, PHE, operator, adjacent local authorities). Existing local forums and liaison committees already set up to discuss emergency arrangements could be utilised for this purpose”.
This paragraph does not shed much light!
ACOP 8(3) gives the local authority another action.
The determination of the detailed emergency planning zone should be reported to the operator and the regulator by the local authority and this should include:
- a description of the area;
- a map showing the extent of the area; and
- a suitable justification for the determination.
The local authority is also being given the power to set specific reference levels where response to a radiation emergency is underway (regulation 20(2)). This is likely to be well outside their comfort zone. Interestingly the Secretary of State can also set reference levels (so no concerns over mixed messages there).
The local authority are being given 2 months to set the DEPZ and a further 6 to complete their plan. This is tight.
ACOP 11(1) xxx “An adequate off-site emergency plan should be able to be put into effect without delay when required in accordance with regulation 17(1). To achieve this the local authority should seek assurances from other organisations with a role in the off-site plan that the underpinning capabilities required to implement the plan are in place and readily available”. This is an area where the local authority needs to be very careful to work systematically and to keep records. A good quality plan and stakeholder engagement plan is advised.
Charging “16(1) A local authority may charge an operator a fee for the performance of the local authority’s functions in relation to the off-site emergency plan under regulations 8, 11, 12 and 21”. That is
- Regulation 8 Detailed emergency planning zones;
- Regulation 11 Local Authority’s emergency plan;
- Regulation 12 Reviewing and testing of emergency plans;
- Regulation 21 Prior information to the public;
375 The following principles should be followed for all costs charged. Costs should be:
(a) directly related to, and solely for, the purpose of fulfilling a duty under regulations 8, 11, 12 or 21 of these Regulations,.
(b) those actually incurred,
(c) fair, proportionate and commensurate to the duty or risk,
(d) either for staff time or capital spend, and
(e) accurately forecasted in advance as far as is reasonably practicable and agreed with the operator.
(f) Local authorities should make use of existing forums wherever practicable to reduce the costs for duties that require input from other organisations.
(g) A detailed breakdown of itemised costs incurred should be provided to the operator promptly following the completion of work. .
(h) Any unavoidable costs that are not known in advance of work commencing should be an exceptional circumstance and should meet the above principles (a) to (d).
Action: Local authorities should take time to understand Regulation 16 (Charging) and should ensure that the operator has the same understanding and that the cost structure is agreed in advance where possible.
Local authorities have the responsibility to give prior information to members of the public and businesses within the DEPZ. This has been transferred. The duty belonged to the operator in REPPIR 2001. In the previous regulations the operator had to ensure that <people in DEPZ> were supplied with information without their having to request it. The new regulations require that the local authority ensure that members of the public are made aware of and have access to the relevant information …. We may have to agree the difference between “supply” and “made aware of”. The former can be claimed by putting a leaflet through a door, the latter may not require actual delivery but might require that we force everyone to read about them!
An aspect of REPPIR 2019 that applies to all local authorities is Regulation 22
22.—(1) Every local authority must prepare and keep up to date arrangements to supply, in the event of an emergency in that local authority’s area (however that emergency may arise), information about and advice on the facts of the emergency, of the steps to be taken and, as appropriate, of health protection measures applicable.
The regulations require that these arrangements are able to provide information at “regular intervals in an appropriate manner, without delay, and without their having to request it, to members of the public who are in that local authority’s area and who are actually affected by the emergency”.
The information provided should include factual information about what has happened or is happening and health protection advice such as restrictions on the consumption of food, recommendations to shelter, evacuate or take protective substances and advice on hygiene and decontamination.
The local authority is expected to participate (and presumably record) a number of consultations:
- with the operator over the Consequence Report (Regs. 7(5) & 7(6));
- on the determination of the DEPZ (Reg. 8);
- on the determination of the outline planning zone (maybe) (Reg 9(b));
- on the on-site plan (Reg. 10(5c);
- on the off-site plan (Reg. 11(5(a-h), 7 & 8);
- Generally in respect of duties (Reg. 13);
- With other local authorities as necessary (Reg. 14);
- Charging (Reg. 16);
- With regard to prior information (Reg. 21);
- With regard to preparing a system to provide real time information on the day (Reg. 22);
ACTION. I think that local authorities should start keeping detailed records of anything that looks like a consultation as this is the sort of thing that regulators like to audit.
Emergency exposures – It is not clear if there are any circumstances in which a local authority employee would be identified to receive emergency exposures. If there were to be then there will be a lot more detailed work to do (Reg. 18).
Summary: These revised regulations seem to put a lot more responsibility on those local authorities with nuclear sites requiring off-site planning within their area. A lot of this work has been done with regard to REPPIR 2001 and before. However, some of it is new and it is likely that the new regulations will prompt the regulators to take a renewed interest in compliance.
Local authorities should be thinking about how they are going to comply, and how they are going to be seen to comply, with these regulations.
Keith Pearce, February 2019