Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Emergency preparedness and response

The Office for Nuclear Regulation is committed to ensuring appropriate arrangements are in place to deal with a nuclear emergency. ONR seeks at international, national and regional levels to influence and assess UK arrangements , through its dedicated Emergency Preparedness and Response (EP&R) team. ONR works in partnership with organisations and agencies involved in emergency response, licensees of nuclear installations, local authorities, government departments and other stakeholders. This webpage also includes information about ONR's work to prepare and respond to any nuclear emergencies that may arise.  

Strategic objectives

ONR has four strategic objectives in relation to emergency preparedness and response:

What the work involves

Specialists within the ONR EP&R team work to influence and continuously improve UK and international emergency arrangements. ONR is a member of national level forums including the Nuclear Emergency Planning Liaison Group (NEPLG), which brings together organisations with interest in off-site civil emergency planning, and the Nuclear Emergency Arrangements Forum (NEAF). Licensees of UK nuclear installations and local authorities in which the sites are situated have legal responsibilities - through the relevant conditions of the nuclear site licence and through Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001, also known by its acronym REPPIR with regards to planning for emergencies. The ONR EP&R team works with our specialist and site inspectors to ensure they meet these legal requirements.

We have the statutory responsibility to set emergency planning areas for sites where there could be an off-site release. The emergency planning area is the area within which local authorities, for each site, are required by law to prepare plans for responding to a reasonably foreseeable radiation emergency with potential off-site consequences for the public.

ONR formally assesses the adequacy of arrangements through emergency exercises:

ONR provides authoritative, independent advice and guidance to the Government in the event of a nuclear emergency in the UK or overseas. Senior ONR representatives, usually our Chief Nuclear Inspector, attend the Government-level meetings and, for UK emergencies, ONR inspectors attend local response co-ordination centres. Our headquarters in Bootle, Merseyside, has an incident suite, from which the overall ONR response would be co-ordinated (this suite was fully operational from the first day of the serious nuclear accident at Fukushima Dai-ichi in 2011 and remained so for several weeks). Our own arrangements are regularly tested with involvement in the emergency exercises referenced above - we seek to continuously improve by learning lessons from these.