Does St Albans really face the risk of a major earthquake?

THE man at the helm of St Albans council was missing from a key meeting on Tuesday - because he was dealing with the after effects of a major earthquake which struck the district.

Daniel Goodwin, the council’s chief executive, was not at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting because he was at police headquarters in Welwyn Garden City.

Together with other council officers and councillors, Mr Goodwin was taking part in Project Orion, a simulated exercise on how to tackle a major earthquake measuring seven on the Richter Scale which hit the UK between Southampton and Liverpool.

Explaining his CEO’s absence from Tuesday’s meeting, council leader Robert Donald said that in the simulation, St Albans and Broxbourne were the most affected parts of Herts and City Hospital had been taken out completely with 700 fatalities.

With the Mayor, Cllr Maxine Crawley, Cllr Donald had been holding a press conference in St Albans about the disaster and would be doing two others in Harpenden Public Halls and London Colney Recreation Centre.

Cllr Donald added: “We have had real emergencies before and simulated ones and the emergency services are coping and we are doing all we can as elected members.

“It is an exercise which shows where we are getting it right and where we are not getting it right.”

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Project Orion is the UK’s first live European Union (EU) civil protection exercise and is being led by Herts fire and rescue service following a successful bid to the EU by the county’s chief fire officer and Orion Project director Roy Wilsher.

The bid was supported by two other county fire services, the Fire Service College and Technisches Hilfswerk in Germany.