HC Deb 04 June 1996 vol 278 c344W
Mr. Simon Hughes

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the duties of the Nuclear Accident Response Organisation; when this organisation was established; how many are employed within the organisation; and how many civilians are employed by the organisation. [31268]

Mr. Soames

The aim of the Nuclear Accident Response Organisation is to ensure that in conjunction with the appropriate civil agencies, there would be an effective response to safeguard the general public and MOD personnel in the unlikely event of an emergency involving defence nuclear materials.

The eight full-time staff in MOD headquarters, five of whom are civilians, give policy direction for the development and exercising of appropriate plans and procedures, but overall the NARO could draw on the skills of many hundreds of personnel across the armed forces and the MOD. Their precise number and specialisation would be dependent on the particular circumstances of an accident but it might include medical experts, health physicists, technical/design specialists, radiation monitoring experts, engineering teams, and associated logistic and other support staff. Contingency arrangements to deal with a range of accidents have existed for as long as the MOD has used nuclear material.