Brendan O’Hara – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Ministry of Defence

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Brendan O’Hara on 2016-02-09.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether each Astral exercise between February 2011 and November 2012 assumed a post-incident release of nuclear materials from the transportation packages.

Penny Mordaunt

The Ministry of Defence maintains a Defence Nuclear Emergency Organisation (NEO) to respond in the unlikely event of an emergency involving the transport of defence nuclear materials. The NEO organises regular exercises to test the effectiveness of its emergency response planning and arrangements. These include the Astral series of exercises, which are designed to be challenging, and thus simulate the extremely unlikely event of a release of radioactive material from the transport containers. No radioactive materials are used or released to the environment during the exercises. The specific exercise objectives do not require assessments or estimates of decontamination, environmental or other post-incident decontamination costs or of radiological dose uptakes. The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) undertook the modelling for each Astral exercise between February 2011 and November 2012.

I am withholding information about the physical state, mass quantity, release fraction and total released radioactivity assumed for these exercises as disclosure would or would be likely to prejudice national security.