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An honest letter from the MoD and exercises in futility…

September 9, 2012

Short Sermon, a nuclear accident emergency response exercise, took place at Faslane Naval Base and HMNB Clyde Media Reception Centre on Wednesday 5th September.

The exercise is based on a fictional nuclear reactor accident scenario and is designed to test the bureaucratic reflexes of the MoD, local government and emergency services in responding to a nuclear reactor accident at Faslane.
However, in recent years, the exercise has been scaled down to deal only with the scenario of an accident that has been contained by the safety measures in place (basically, an accident that goes as planned!) and fails to attempt preparation for foreseeable containment failure, i.e. a more serious accident that could result in radioactive fission materials being released into the atmosphere, such as what happened at Fukushima or Chernobyl.

The additional failure of the exercise in recent years is to include, or indeed notify, the public of it in any way. The Ministry of Defence apparently feels that to worry, or even just prepare, anyone in the vicinity of Faslane, where there are frequently up to three nuclear reactor powered submarines and up to 138 armed nuclear warheads stationed at any one time, is an unnecessary duty. Instead, those of us that are conscious of the potential Armageddon living next door, are to placate our own worries by finding a copy of the “off-site emergency plan” hidden away at the local library and take comfort in the fact in a nuclear meltdown all we would have to do is “stay indoors” and await the arrival of our Potassium Iodate Tablets (that the MoD and local council have shrewdly decided not to pre-distribute. We wouldn’t want people to start asking questions now, would we?).

So in the days leading up to the exercise, we were quite surprised to receive an uncharateristically honest letter from the Ministry of Defence entitled “Public Awareness Scheme” that detailed a number of the more serious risks at Faslane Naval Base and quite openly stated that there really aren’t any emergency response exercises in place to ensure that the MoD and local emergency services would be equipped to deal with them. The letter was delivered to the thousands of residents in the close vicinity of the Faslane naval base.

We have attached a copy via the link below as it makes for interesting reading and we feel that the we should assist the Ministry of Defence in this honourable attempt to make the local population and wider public more aware of the risks that the Faslane and Coulport nuclear weapons bases pose to their lives and health.

During the Short Sermon Exercise on Wednesday, we also helped out by donning our radioactivity isolation suits and being a presence outside the Media Deception Centre where the local bureaucrats were practising making phone calls  for the event of a nuclear disaster… just in case the exercise escaped the knowledge of any local residents. We were able to quiz the NHS, local fire service and council participants on how they felt it went as they left. The general consensus was that the reactor accident was bureaucratically contained and the day was a success. This is all great news for the local residents, and being the most local residents at the camp, we now feel very safe!

Public Awareness Scheme

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