There would be “increased mortality rates” which would put “pressure on the practicalities of movement, storage and disposal of the deceased”. “Aside from the environmental health problems there is the cultural and social issue of ensuring dignity in death,” it notes.
The area left without power in the Exercise Hopkinson scenario (source: DECC)
Transport systems would be paralysed as “signals failure on the rail network will shut down all movement in the region” while street lighting and road signals will fail, compounding congestion as people try to flee the area.
Mobile phone coverage would start to drop out after two hours and most landline phones would be unusable as they require power.
There is a “genuine risk that high risk offenders in the community would be able to disappear” as electronic tagging systems stop working alongside the mobile phone signal.
Fire and rescue services may struggle to cope after being inundated with automated alarm systems.
Current business contingency plans were based on the assumption that “a critical mass of staff remain available”. Yet just one third of staff may be able or willing to make it to work in the scenario as “people will look after themselves and their families before their workplace”.
Staffing of isolated rural prisons will be a particular problem and access to water in jails could run out in less than seven days. It may be necessary to consider “decanting prisons in order to stem likely rising disorder”, the report finds.
Some types of sewage treatment works could cease to work after six hours and sewage would have to be discharged into water courses. Milk collection from dairy farms would fail, triggering an “environmental emergency” as it had to be disposed of by spreading it over farms.
Panic buying and hoarding would be triggered, casting doubt on existing assumptions over food supplies.