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Nuclear Accidents

Volume 984: debated on Monday 12 May 1980

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asked the Prime Minister which Government Department has the direct and immediate responsibility for warning the public in the event of a serious accident or malfunction at a nuclear power station and of supervising and controlling any necessary evacuation of population in the vicinity of the power station, whether the incident occurs in the United Kingdom or on the territory of some neighbouring state such as the Republic of Ireland, Belgium, Holland, or in Northern France.

In the event of any emergency occurring within the United Kingdom, it is the responsibility of the police and local authorities concerned to provide appropriate warning to the public and to supervise and control any evacuation. Departmental responsibility for these general emergency arangements in Great Britain is shared by the Home Secretary and the Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and the Environment. In Northern Ireland responsibility lies with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.In the case of a serious accident at a nuclear power station, the station's operator would be responsible for providing the police with the advice and information on which a decision to evacuate could be taken. Departmental responsibility for nuclear safety rests with the Secretary of State for Energy, in England and Wales, and the Secretary of State for Scotland, in Scotland.In the unlikely event of an incident at a nuclear installation overseas affecting the United Kingdom, it would be for the Secretary of State for the Environment in consultation with the Minister of Agriculture to assess the environmental effect and to advise the local authorities concerned who have standing arrangements for all incidents affecting their areas.