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Devonport nuclear accident drill reveals flaws

The exercise took place at Devonport to check the readiness of a range of agencies in the face of a nuclear explosion Credit: PA

An exercise drill to prepare the south west for a nuclear disaster revealed a number of gaffes, according to a new report.

Exercise Short Sermon is held every three years to prepare officials at Devonport for an explosion aboard a nuclear submarine.

The multi-agency drill, in October 2013, played out a scenario of radioactive material being released into the atmosphere with numerous casualty. It highlighted a number of lessons to be learned.

  • "Severely flawed and wrong" instructions were given regarding the evacuation of a town
  • "Lack of understanding" into which way the plume of radiation was moving.
  • Hospital were not warned when ambulance crews brought in a "victim" suffering from radiation poisoning.
  • There was "difficult" liaison between the Government's Science and Technical Advice Cell and Cornwall Council and its eventual advice was severely flawed and wrong.
  • NHS England said they were unable to assess how the nuclear emergency would impact on health services as "there were no plans to include casualties outside the dockyard".
  • There were also issues with broadband internet paid for by NHS England, which was not "fully available" on the day
  • Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service described a "lamentable lack of information mapping or charts" at an initial meeting, with "confused" deployment of fire engines.
  • Incorrect weather information, which did not originate from the Met Office, was initially provided and "it took nearly all the exercise to get this corrected".

The report, by the Ministry of Defence, found the exercise was successful overall but in future it will be replaced by a three year training programme.

Parking ticket for Plymouth Santa

Father Christmas was nabbed by Plymouth's community policing team when his 'sleigh' was found without an MoT. Santa was also given a parking ticket by officers as part of Op SMART, a policing scheme to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour in Devonport and the west of the city.

During a fortnight this month 22 houses were searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act, resulting in four arrests for possession with intent to supply, six warnings/fines for drug misuse and further investigations into burglaries and handling stolen goods. A further six people were also arrested for other related offences.

The police team also worked in partnership with Trading Standards to seize over 300 potentially counterfeit items from a single car boot sale, as well as working to tackle bad driving and parking offences.

"We would like to send a clear message that drug use is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our communities - anyone involved in drug use at any level should be looking over their shoulder in anticipation of a visit from us.

"The work we have been doing has proved to act as something of a deterrent to criminals, which has been really welcomed by the local residents, and we hope this continues to build on this."

– Sgt Dave Eames, Neighbourhood Team Leader

Devonport's "nuclear graveyard" fears put to rest

Devonport has not been selected as a site to store nuclear waste from redundant submarines Credit: PA

Devonport Dockyard will not be used as a storage site for nuclear waste from redundant submarines.

The dockyard had been in the running to be an interim storage facility for the waste, sparking concerns that the city could be seen as the country's "nuclear graveyard" but the Ministry of Defence has released a final shortlist of possible locations and Devonport isn't on it.


Cutting the cake for a 30-year-old submarine

Cdr Hywel Griffiths cuts a cake to mark the decommissioning of HMS Tireless after 30 years Credit: ITV News West Country

The formal decommissioning of the nuclear-powered submarine, HMS Tireless, has taken place at Devonport.

At 30-years-old, she's Britain's longest serving submarine so, HAD to have her own cake. The vessel's Commanding Officer, Commander Hywel Griffiths, did the honours.

HMS Tireless bows out - to the tune of Mr Blue Sky

The Royal Navy stands on ceremony in Plymouth as it bids farewell to HMS Tireless Credit: ITV News West Country

A service is being held to mark the decommissioning of HMS Tireless, Britain's longest serving submarine. The Royal Marines band has just played Mr Blue Sky during the inspection of the ship's company.

HMS Tireless returns home after helping with the search for the lost Malaysian airliner Credit: Royal Navy

The nuclear-powered submarine returned to Devonport for the last time two weeks ago after helping in the search for the missing Malaysian airliner off Australia.

The 30-year-old boat holds the record for the longest submarine deployment: ten months away from base.

Sailor dies on HMS Bulwark

The sailor died on board HMS Bulwark this morning. Credit: PA

A sailor has died after an industrial accident on board HMS Bulwark at Devonport Naval Base.

Emergency Services were called to the scene just before 11 o'clock this morning when it was reported that a crew member was stuck in a lift shaft.

The man could not be saved and died at the scene.

Police are investigating, along with the Health and Safety Executive but the incident is not being treated as suspicious.

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