All industrial sites and premises should be considering their risks from climate change but none more so than those that contain critical infrastructure, such as sites of strategic importance, such as the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Burghfield.
The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Burghfield was built in the 1940s and is the UK’s facility for assembling and disassembling nuclear warheads.
Part of the site sits on a flood plain and some of its facilities were flooded in July 2007. AWE undertook an internal review following the floods and developed and implemented a two year programme to improve their flood resilience. Since then, The Ministry of Defence (MOD), which owns the site, has been given planning permission for a replacement warhead facility.
What we did and why
We were involved in assessing the flood risk to this facility. Because it is a nuclear licensed site we reviewed AWE's flood model.
The proposed development will include increased flood water storage capacity from surface run-off and the facility itself has been designed to resist a one in 10,000 year flood event.
‘Although the risk of contamination to the environment was very low, we were keen to work closely with AWE to help prevent such an event happening again,’ said David Griffiths, Nuclear Regulation Group South Team Leader.
‘We worked closely with MOD and AWE to help them plan the replacement assembly/disassembly facility, which will be located on higher ground that is not susceptible to flooding.
‘The site and its local environment is also being further protected from extreme weather events thanks to revisions made to the site’s emergency arrangements.’
Who was involved
Environment Agency (Nuclear Regulation Group)
Environment Agency (Thames West Area)
Atomic Weapons Establishment