What would happen in the event of a nuclear disaster in West Berkshire?
That’s what a number of agencies were looking to find out during a major training exercise held at West Berkshire Council last week.
They tested their response to a simulated incident of radioactive material being released from the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), affecting areas of West Berkshire and Hampshire.
Aspects tested included setting up command and control rooms, the systems for warning local communities, and their strategy for recovery.
Marcus Franks, the council’s executive member for community resilience, said: “While the likelihood of an incident is very small, we are not complacent and have plans in place to respond should it be necessary for us to do so.
“We regularly test different aspects of our plans but it is not often we have the chance to do so with so many agencies taking part.
“The exercise ran smoothly but there are always lessons to be learnt from exercises such as this and we have now begun a review to understand how we can make our emergency plan even better.”
More than 400 staff from 40 different agencies at local, regional and national level took part.
AWE manufactures and maintains the UK’s nuclear deterrent Trident, and has sites in Aldermaston and Burghfield.
Haydn Clulow, AWE’s site director, said: “West Berkshire Council’s off-site emergency response plan for the AWE sites is tested every three years and we have rigorous emergency response procedures in place.
“Our extensive and specialist response capability in the highly unlikely event of a radiation emergency affecting the public includes our own fire and rescue and medical service, monitoring teams, radiation protection advisers and analytical and scientific experts.”