Monaghan questions the MOD’s response to nuclear incidents

Glasgow North West MP, Carol Monaghan has highlighted the need to keep the public fully informed of any nuclear incidents.

In Tuesday’s (7th June) Science and Technology Select Committee on, ‘Science advice for chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear emergencies (CBRN)’, Carol questioned Christopher Abbott, chairman of the Emergency Planning Society CBRN professional working group and Professor Patrick Regan, Science Area Leader for Radioactivity, National Physical Laboratory on how and when we should inform the public of any potential incident.

In the course of her questioning, Ms Monaghan highlighted that there have been nuclear incidents at Faslane Naval Base which were not initially broadcast to the public and which only later came to light following Freedom of Information requests. It is this lack of transparency which leads to suspicion of the authorities and to the public assuming the worst of any incident.

Speaking after the Committee, Ms Monaghan said:

“The comments from Christopher Abbott were quite illuminating when he agreed that we need to better pre-emptively educate the public, because a well-educated public will respond better to any incident. In particular he highlighted how well the Japanese public responded to the Fukushima disaster, and on how well educated they are on the comparative hazards and risks of the nuclear industry. In contrast it was his opinion that a similar incident in the UK, and any resultant evacuation, would not be managed as well due to the lack of that pre-emptive education.

“It is quite clear that the UK Government and the Ministry of Defence have let the public down time and time again in their failure to inform the public, or even the Scottish Government, of nuclear incidents when they occur at Faslane; in their failure to keep the relevant authorities informed when they are moving nuclear materials through our communities by road and in the distinct lack of education about the relative risks and safeguards that are in place at our nuclear sites.

“I look forward to the day when Scotland is nuclear-free but, until that day, it is the responsibility of the UK Government and the UK nuclear regulatory authorities to not only properly inform the public when an incident occurs but also to ensure that the public are well educated on what the comparative risks are and on what the response would be to each possible incident.”