Is this it?

Key Themes

  • Nuclear safety
  • Nuclear security
  • Consequences
  • Hazard awareness

Target Audience

Anyone working in a nuclear facility.


Like many of their friends and neighbours, Suzie and her husband Nick work in a nuclear facility. Despite the fact that they have regular fire and nuclear exercises, the prospect of a real event seems remote to the staff. Complacency sets in and a poorly planned operation goes badly wrong, causing a radiological release. As the staff are prevented from leaving interior muster points, Suzie learns that the incident happened in the building where her husband works. Commissioned by a major nuclear facility this monologue considers a worst-case scenario.


Suzie: We all trooped outside to the fire muster point and stood around, wishing we’d brought our coats. Our fire warden did a head count and said as far as he knew, it wasn’t a practice, but he couldn’t see any obvious problems, so he assumed it was a false alarm. It’s happened before. Then the fire alarm stopped, thank goodness. (PAUSE) And the site emergency siren started. I’ve heard it loads of times, but on this occasion, standing outside, looking at the suddenly worried faces around me, it sounded more eerie than usual. We all walked back to the shift canteen which was the indoor muster point.

Someone began to hand out respirators and I looked at mine. I’d practised with one hundreds of times, but how would I feel about using it for real? I looked at my watch. The siren sounds for six minutes. A vague doubt began to gnaw at me. Is this it? Is this for real?

Conversations gradually petered out as other people obviously started to think the same thing. Then a man I didn’t know said, ‘This is a joke’, which broke the spell, and all of a sudden people started to speak quite loudly, angrily, asking what the hell was going on.

‘We’ve never had a fire evacuation and a nuclear evacuation at the same time,’ Sarah said. And I thought ‘no that’s true. We haven’t.’ This was different. There was a bang, which made me jump, but it was only someone closing a window And that’s when I thought, ‘Oh God, where’s Nick?’