Wednesday, 26 September 2012

MOD Radiation Protection and Radioactive Waste Committee Papers

In response to a FOI request the MOD have released  the minutes of a number of committees concerned with radiation protection and the management of radioactive waste.

Link to FOI requesting :-

"a; the minutes,
b: agendas
c: Terms of reference


a: the Radiation Protection Policy Committee (RPPC)
b: the Radioactive Waste Working Group (RWWG)
c: the Radioactive Waste Information Group (RAWIG),

for the period 1990 to 2000"

The MOD provided the following information

Radioactive Waste Working Group RWWG

Terms of Reference


7  January 1999
20 May 1999
9 September 1999
13 January 2000
7 June 20000
19 September 2000

Radiation Protection Policy Committee RPPC

Terms of Reference

a:                    b:


17 October 1996
28 January 1998
9 June 1998

Radioactive Waste Information Group RAWIG

Terms of Reference -  not provided


13 January 1999
18 May 2000
8 November 2000

Its notable that apart from the agendas these are the only documents provided,  the MOD said that

 " Despite an extensive search of the archives we have been unable to locate a complete set of minutes, agendas and terms of reference for the committees detailed in your request. Some of the files which may have contained the minutes, agendas and terms of reference for the committees have been destroyed."   

 It seems very surprising that the minutes of MOD central committees dealing with issues as significant as radiation safety and the management of radioactive waste and radioactively contaminated land  have been lost or destroyed. 

These remaining documents  provide a snap-shot  of the radiation protection and radioactive waste issues faced by the MOD and show how the MOD was responding. The documents  also provide a good indication of the value of the papers that have been lost.

The more cynical  may be suspect, within the MOD there is a deliberate policy of destroying  files to avoid  answering difficult questions about past activities and dodging liability.  Such a policy appears to have resulted  in  a "corporate lobotomy"  so far as knowledge of  historic activities are concerned. It also results in an inability to learn from history that would help inform decisions concerning current activities and issues.

Failure to ensure the preservation of the minutes of the  central MOD Committee concerned with Radioactive Waste Management for the  period 1975 to 1985.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

DE&S Contractorisation a disaster in the making

DE&S provides the intelligent customer function for Defence procurement  including expertise in examining  and drawing up contracts to ensure that they offer value for money whilst delivering the required defence capability.  The proposal to contractorise DE&S  will remove this intelligent customer function and risks causing a similar but far larger problem than occurred in the education sector where budgets were devolved  to schools which lacked the necessary expertise  in understanding, drawing up and managing contracts.

The result for schools is a laptop that has a price of between £350 and £400 the school was charged £3,750. Another example is a school that had to pay nearly £500,000 to settle a lease on behalf of one school for photocopiers worth just £45,000.   It is interesting to consider what the situation will be for the taxpayer with much larger contracts in the defence sector. 

It is suspected that because of contractorisation safety and environmental aspects of procurement will either be exploited by companies to increase the cost to taxpayer of defence systems or given a  low priority.

Transparency and openness  of defence procurement will be significantly reduced as the Freedom of Information Act does not apply to commercial undertakings as will accountability to Parliament.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

A look back at radiation protection in the MOD's nuclear programmes

In 1990  the 12th  report of the  House of Commons Defence Committee was published. Looking at the report today provides a very interesting view of radiation protection and doses to both civilians and service personnel  working in the Defence Nuclear programmes in the late 1980s.

Link to the report.  

The report provides an insight into how the MOD was responding to the Gardner report and also touches on the need to counsel radiation workers about their exposures to radiation.  The report also discusses the no fault compensation scheme .

COMARE advice on the Gardner report

The report  mentions  the Graduate Entry Training scheme for Health Physicists  (GETS). The GET scheme  became a victim of the fragmentation of the defence nuclear sector, especially when AWE  no longer participated.  It was from this point on that the active career management  of MOD Health Physicists took a steep downhill turn. This also reflects the demise of the scientific civil service with the move away from engineering and science grades to a broad banded  grade structure,  which  includes a science and engineering skills framework.

Recruiting and retaining specialist staff

when asked "have there been difficulties in recruiting and retaining specialist staff" Surgeon Captain Harrison replied "I think there always has been, but the Ministry has responded to this by starting up a graduate entry training scheme for health physicists which has been running now some four to five years and this is brining really good first class graduates  into the service".

Over 20 years after the publication of the 12th  report of the  House of Commons Defence Committee ; the retention of specialist staff including health physicists remains  to this day a significant issue and risk to the safety of MOD's  nuclear programme, with little indication of progress in finding a solution.


Counselling Scheme

MOD page on compensation scheme

Radiation Compensation Scheme

Friday, 14 September 2012

Depleted Uranium Measurements Eskmeals West Cumbria

In response to an FOI request MOD has  released two  reports on levels of Depleted Uranium ( DU) generated at the point of impact of 120mm DU kinetic energy rounds against hard targets at the Eskmeals R&D facility in West Cumbria. These reports detail measurements used to determine the time at which workers with PPE could enter the target area.

While most of the interest in DU has focused on service personnel who were exposed to DU in combat,  workers at Eskmeals were exposed day in day out for years whilst DU  firings were carried out at Eskmeals.

Report summarising the measurements taken at VJ Butt P&EE Eskmeals of Depleted Uranium in air during the period 1981 to 1982.

Safety Services Organisation MOD(PE) November 1983, The distribution of Depleted Uranium releases at P&&EE Eskmeals, excluding appendices.

Qinetiq Eskmeals