West Berkshire Council

Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE)

Find out about AWE and what to do in an emergency

West Berkshire is home to two Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) sites, located in Aldermaston and Burghfield.
Both sites are managed by AWE Plc.

What to do in the unlikely event of a radiation emergency at an AWE site

IF you get a call or find out that there is a radiation emergency about AWE, then follow the steps below:

  • Go in - go indoors and follow the advice below
  • Stay in - close and stay away from all windows and doors. Damp down or put out fires and turn off any fans that could draw air from outside.
  • Tune in - tune in to local radio and TV. Advice and updates will also be given on news websites and social media.
  • Don't use your phone - don't use your landline or mobile unless there is a separate emergency. This could overload the system and should be left clear for the emergency services. 
  • Don't leave the area - don't leave the area unless told to do so by the emergency services. You will be much safer indoors.

To find out more information about what you should do if there is a radiation emergency at AWE Aldermaston or Burghfield, please see the instructions and advice in the REPPIR Public Information Booklet:

Regulation changes - REPPIR 2019

On 22 May 2019, the government introduced the new Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2019 to strengthen the national emergency preparedness and response arrangements for radiological emergencies. These replaced the REPPIR 2001 regulations.

All UK nuclear sites working with 'ionising radiation' (as defined by the legislation) and the local council where these nuclear sites are, had until 21 May 2020 to comply with the new regulations.

West Berkshire Council's responsibilities

We have a number of responsibilities in order to ensure compliance with the REPPIR 2019 regulations

This includes determining the Detailed Emergency Planning Zone (DEPZ) for each of the AWE sites. The process to define these zones has been completed. The report relating to this process and the Consequence Reports provided by AWE are available to view below. 

There have been zone changes around the AWE Burghfield site. We've produced pdf icon a list of FAQs [238kb] for residents now included in the zone. If you have further queries, please contact the Emergency Planning Team.

There have been no zone changes around the AWE Aldermaston site. 

You can view the zones on the map below:

Map link

In addition to providing information to the community, we have other responsibilities in order to ensure compliance, including:

  • developing an off-site emergency plan
  • training and testing the plan

We don't do this on our own. We work with a number of emergency services, other agencies and neighbouring councils who would also be involved in responding to an emergency at either of the AWE sites.

This work is coordinated through the AWE Off-Site Planning Group, led by West Berkshire Council, which meets throughout the year. 

The group is also directly involved or has representation on the following groups:

Further information

Who To Contact