Sunderland Council’s planning for a nuclear disaster ... and rabies

A nuclear cloud.

A nuclear cloud.

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NUCLEAR disaster, the spread of rabies and mass fatalities – these are just some of the catastrophes Sunderland City Council has contingency plans for.

In total, there are more than 50 internal and external plans which the authority is required to create and contribute to.

The Echo can reveal that other procedures include the Sunderland flood plan, pandemic influenza plan and the Tyne and Wear oil pollution plan.

There is also a nuclear flask train plan that deals with any incidents that might involve the train carriages that travel from the Sellafield power station carrying nuclear rods.

In 2006 Sunderland train station was closed after the nuclear flask train broke down on its way to Sellafield.

Smoke was seen coming from the train after an axle had overheated and, as a result, the whole station was evacuated.

The British Transport Police said no danger had been posed to the public and the station was able to reopen the next day – the train continued its journey after having new brakes fitted.

The train, which is operated by British Nuclear Fuels Limited, consists of heavily-shielded, purpose-built flasks which are constructed from 30cm thick steel and typically weigh more than 50 tonnes.

Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Planning for emergencies is an important part of the council’s role.

“The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 sets out the need to have local arrangements in place to deal with a wide range of emergencies to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

“In Sunderland City Council this is divided into three strands, covering how we plan for emergencies, how we would respond and what we would need to do afterwards to get things back to normal.

“Planning is a vital part of ensuring civil protection at a local level, and the council along with its partners has a number of plans in place to ensure that Sunderland can meet these demands and ensure the welfare of our residents and their property.

“Although the likelihood of some of these incidents occurring is quite low, it is necessary to have such planning in place to mitigate the effect should such an event occur.”

Twitter: @tomwhite7