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Radiation (Damage)

Volume 32: debated on Wednesday 24 November 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will evaluate the consequences in loss of life and damage to the environment of successful attacks with nuclear or conventional weapons on nuclear reprocessing plants and radioactive waste storage facilities resulting in the release and scattering of high level radioactive waste and other nuclear materials;(2) if he will evaluate the consequences in loss of life and damage to the environment of successful attacks with nuclear or conventional weapons on the nuclear power stations in Great Britain resulting in a breach of containment and destruction of the reactor core.

The results of attacks of the kind hypothesised would be severe, but difficult to quantify precisely.A direct hit by a nuclear weapon on a nuclear installation would cause no significant enhancement of blast, heat or initial radiation. Augmentation of fall-out is possible, more severely in the case of attacks on reprocessing plants and highly active waste storage facilities. Since the containment buildings are inherently blast resistant, attacks falling short of a direct hit are less likely to lead to fall-out augmentation. An attack with a large conventional weapon could lead to release of a small fraction of the fission products, but additional radiation casualties would be low.