New contingency plans have been drawn up to evacuate a Highland community if a nuclear submarine accident caused a radioactive cloud to be released. The procedures for Loch Ewe in Wester Ross now feature an enlarged “emergency planning zone” that is designed to protect local residents from a radiation leak. Planning is carried out for a “nuclear emergency” at Loch Ewe because the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarine fleet is officially allowed to use it as a “Z-berth” for operational visits. However, the special designation has proved controversial, and a local MSP warned last night that “coastal communities are being put at risk” by such warships. Concerns have also previously been raised about the preparations for an incident and it is understood that nuclear warships stayed clear of the loch between 2008 and 2015 after secret exercises raised a series of issues relating to the proposed emergency response. Last year, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) ordered Highland Council to revise its contingency procedures following a review carried out in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster that followed a 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Press and Journal 29th Oct 2018 read more »