Nuclear incidents abroad that could affect Ireland include an accident at a nuclear plant, a terrorist attack on a nuclear plant or a nuclear explosion in another country.
Consequences for Ireland
- The impact on Ireland would depend on the nature of the incident and the prevailing wind direction and weather conditions.
- If radioactivity from an incident in the UK or elsewhere overseas reached Ireland, the distance from overseas nuclear plants means the increase in radioactivity levels (over normal background levels) would be relatively small but would occur over a wide area.
- While no immediate health effects are likely to occur as a result of radiation doses received, a large number of people could be exposed to a long-term but small increase in radiation exposure. This could lead to an increased lifetime risk of cancer.
- Consumption of contaminated foodstuffs is the most significant potential route of radiation dose. However this exposure could be almost totally prevented by introducing appropriate controls on the distribution and consumption of foodstuffs.
- There could be significant disruption of the economy.
What to do (in the event of a nuclear incident)
- Go in, Stay in, Tune in. In other words, stay indoors and listen to both radio and television for information and instructions.
- Once information is available on the accident and its consequences, specific advice will be given. This will include advice on whether it is necessary to stay indoors, to avoid consumption of locally-grown foods or to take any other steps.
- Evacuation is not advisable for this type of emergency. It would expose people to a larger dose of radioactivity during the passage of a radioactive plume as vehicles offer little protection.
- In contrast staying indoors is an effective protective measure to reduce radiation exposure during the passage of the radioactive plume. Staying indoors should not be required for more than a few hours.
With the availability of up-to-the-minute information from our international partners through bodies such as the International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Commission, the relevant authorities will be in a position to keep the public well informed at all times on the latest situation and advice.
The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and the EPA Office of Radiological Protection have published information on the National Emergency Plan for Nuclear Accidents on their websites.