Tag Archives: Devonport

UK – Look inside a nuclear submarine during dockyard open days

HMS Courageous

HMS Courageous

THE GENERAL public will have the chance to see inside a nuclear submarine during two dockyard open days.

Devonport naval base will throw open its doors this Sunday from 10am to 5pm and on May 26 during the same hours.

Commodore Graeme Little, the commanding officer of the base, has agreed to the base being opened to the public in support of Plymouth’s History Festival.

The days are being run by Friend and Volunteers of Devonport Naval Heritage Centre.

As well as having a tour of a decommissioned submarine, HMS Courageous, the public can also visit the model ship gallery, take a look at the ships figureheads, visit the police museum, look around Gilroy House (the former home of the senior police officer) and enjoy fascinating talks throughout the day.

One of the talks will be given by Peter Holt form the SHIPS (Shipwrecks and History In Plymouth Sound) project.

Bob Cook, from the naval museum, said: “Everyone is welcome to come along. HMS Courageous is set out for visitors but you have to be fit enough to go in and out of the tubes, like going down a manhole, so as long as you don’t have a heart condition, vertico, claustrophobia or are heavily pregnant, you’re more than welcome – but wear trousers.

“We will have a formal opening by the Lord Mayor and we are hoping the commodore will come along too.”

A programme of events will be available on both days to boost museum funds.

Anyone going should head to the Naval Base Heritage Museum off Granby Way (postcode PL1 4HG). Car parking is available.

For more details contact 01752 554200


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UK – Worker dies in Plymouth Dockyard accident

Worker dies in Plymouth Dockyard accident

        The civilian worker died following an  accident at Devonport Dockyard this afternoon

HEALTH and safety inspectors and police are continuing the investigate the  death of a dockyard worker at Devonport yesterday.

Officers from Devon and Cornwall police are leading the enquiry into the  death of the 57-year-old civilian.

The man, who was from the Newton Abbot area, was killed when he was operating  a cherry picker on a laid up submarine.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police said: “Just before 1pm on Monday,  October 21 officers were called to Devonport Dockyard following the report of an  industrial accident.

“As a result of the incident, a 57-year old male sadly died at the scene. His  next of kin has been informed.

“A joint investigation by Devon and Cornwall Police, the Health and Safety  Executive and MOD has commenced, and HM Coroner has been informed.”

It’s understood that the police will lead the investigation before fully  handing the case over to the HSE if they do not establish any grounds for  prosecution.

The HSE will then wait for the inquest to conclude before continuing an  independent investigation to establish if any health and safety laws have been  breached.

A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive said: “We are looking into  the latest incident.

“Devon and Cornwall police are leading the investigation.

“We have had inspectors on the site but it’s very early days.”

The man, who has not been named, was a civian who worked for Babcock  Marine.

The dockyard operator released a statment shortly after news of the incident  broke.

It said: “Everyone at Babcock is saddened by this tragedy, and our thoughts  are very much with the family of the person who has lost his  life.”

Source – This is Plymouth

Nuclear scare at Navy submarine base after ‘unbelievable’ failures

Double defects left vessels without vital sources of coolant for their reactors, despite earlier warnings and incidents

A major nuclear incident was narrowly averted at the heart of Britain’s Royal Navy submarine fleet

Experts yesterday compared the crisis at the naval base, operated by the Ministry of Defence and government engineering contractors Babcock Marine, with the Fukushima Daiichi power-station meltdown in Japan in 2011.

It came just four months after the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, announced that the base would “remain vital in the future”.

The failure of the electric-power source for coolant to nuclear reactors and then the diesel back-up generators was revealed in a heavily redacted report from the Ministry of Defence’s Site Event Report Committee (Serc).

Once a submarine arrives at the Devon base’s specially designed Tidal X-Berths, it must be connected to coolant supplies to prevent its nuclear reactor overheating.

But last July a series of what were described as “unidentified defects” triggered the failures which meant that for more than 90 minutes, submarines were left without their main sources of coolant.

The IoS has learnt that there had been two previous electrical failures at Devonport, both formally investigated.

They were the loss of primary and alternative shore supply to the nuclear hunter/killer attack sub HMS Talent in 2009 and the loss of “AC shore supply” to the now decommissioned nuclear sub HMS Trafalgar in 2011, the Serc report said.

John Large, an independent nuclear adviser who led the team that conducted radiation analysis on the Russian Kursk submarine which sank in the Barents Sea in 2000, said: “It is unbelievable that this happened. It could have been very serious. Things like this shouldn’t happen. It is a fundamental that these fail-safe requirements work. It had all the seriousness of a major meltdown – a major radioactive release.”

Mr Large warned that if a submarine had recently entered the base when the failure occurred the situation could have been “dire” because of high heat levels in its reactor.

Babcock launched an internal investigation after the incident; this blamed the complete loss of power on a defect in the central nuclear switchboard. It said the defect had resulted in an “event with potential nuclear implications”.

Among a number of “areas of concern” uncovered by the Babcock investigation was what was described as an “inability to learn from previous incidents and to implement the recommendations from previous event reports”.

A subsequent review from the Base Nuclear Safety Organisation revealed the “unsuccessful connection of diesel generators” and questioned the “effectiveness of the maintenance methodology and its management”, while advising Babcock to “address the shortfalls in their current maintenance regime”.

Operated under extremely tight security and secrecy, the Devonport nuclear repair and refuelling facility was built to maintain the new Vanguard ballistic missile submarines and is also home to the Trafalgar- and Astute-class attack submarines – both powered by nuclear reactors.

Babcock, which is Britain’s leading naval-support business and works with the MoD on a number of projects, admits that working with nuclear fuels will always carry a “small risk of a radiation emergency”.

Its own “stress test” on Devonport safety, launched after the Fukushima disaster, said that in the event of the failure of both power supplies, heat levels in reactors could be controlled by emergency portable water pumps, and added that such a failure had occurred a “number of times” previously.

Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, said: “It’s deeply worrying that a technical fault resulted in an event with potential nuclear implications. As long as we continue our obsession with nuclear – both in our defence system and in energy generation – there are going to be safety issues like this.”

Ten days ago, the Office for Nuclear Regulation watchdog published details of an improvement notice it had served on Devonport on 16 July for three alleged breaches of health and safety legislation, and of Section 24 of the Nuclear Installations Act – regarding “operating instructions”.

Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: “Accidents such as the one highlighted in this report again show that a city-centre location is no place for nuclear submarines”

Babcock was unavailable for comment last night. But the conclusion of the MoD report said that while recognising organisations and individuals were “increasingly expected to deliver to tighter deadlines with limited resources”, failures would be reported and learned from, to deliver a “safe product”.

Source – The Independent

£2m nuclear submarine crane nears completion at Kingswinford firm

A £2 million defence project to build a colossal crane for the decommissioning of nuclear submarines is nearing completion at a Black Country firm.

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Managing director Robert Holland, right, and sales manager Richard Holland with the colossal crane in Kingswinford

Around 50 workers at Kingswinford’s TM Engineers have been working to create the 40ft high and 60-tonne structure, for the past two years.

Bosses from the company, in Oak Lane, today said the finishing touches were now being added to the crane.

It will be used to remove rods from the nuclear reactors of Trafalgar-class submarines at the end of their service life.

Work is due to be completed on the project within the next few weeks.

It will then be broken down into five separate pieces and transported from the firm’s headquarters during the next month.

The crane will eventually form part of a larger structure installed at the Devonport Royal Dockyard – where the submarines will be stripped down.

It takes around two years to fully strip a submarine and the crane has been designed to withstand natural disasters such as tsunami, hurricanes and earthquakes.

The structure is designed to be in operation for 30 years with designers at the Black Country firm having to anticipate what will be required of it during that period.

Around 8,000 hours of welding has gone into creating the structure.

Sales manager at the company Richard Holland said all of the staff at the firm deserved credit for the successful project.

“You can design something but it is the workers here who have made it a reality. They have worked tremendously hard over the past two years,” he said. “It has been a very difficult project to work on as technology and the demands on the structure change so quickly.

“This has been a highly prestigious contract for us. It has involved all of our staff at various points during the project.”

It is not the first major project to have been completed by the firm. It won a prestigious £750,000 deal to build parts for the famous Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. The firm developed mechanised parts for the project which helped capture atoms as they are sent careering around the 16-mile underground structure.

The parts, called E-Cal End Plates, were 13ft wide, made from aluminium and sent in two sets to Geneva. They took six months to develop due to the complicated nature of the manufacturing process.

A carbon fibre ‘shroud’ and lead blocks were attached to holes on the plates to catch the atoms.

The firm which employs 55 staff was founded more than 60 years ago. It is one of only 10 firms worldwide to be awarded special gold plaques from Geneva for its work on the Hadron Collider. The firm became involved through Rutherford Appleton Laboratories in Oxfordshire.

Source – Express & Star

Fears over Rosyth nuclear submarine waste

The issue of storing retired nuclear submarine at Rosyth has been a source of anger.

SCOTLAND has been chosen for the pilot project to break up some of Britain’s old nuclear submarines, prompting fears it could become a dumping ground for radioactive waste.

 

Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials will test the removal of reactors in Rosyth, but politicians and anti-nuclear campaigners have hit out at the plans, fearing nuclear waste will be dumped in the area.

A total of 27 submarines are to be dismantled at UK naval bases, with one at Rosyth the first to be cut up.

The Fife yard has been home to the old vessels for years, but concerns have been raised that the site could become a toxic dump after the MoD ordered the “demonstration of the radioactive waste removal process”.

However, the pilot will not go ahead until a storage facility for the waste is identified and further consultation is undertaken, expected to start next year.

SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson MP said: “The Ministry of Defence’s approach to nuclear safety in Scotland clearly leaves a lot to be desired.

“Instead of experimenting with cutting up these submarines and worrying about the consequences later, the MoD needs to put a credible plan in place for what to do with the radioactive parts of these subs before it begins work.”

The Nuclear Submarine Forum, a coalition of pressure groups, has called for an end to building such vessels until a proper way of dealing with the resulting waste is found.

Jane Tallents of the forum, said: “Communities and local councils close to the Rosyth and Devonport have said clearly that the dockyards are not suitable sites for the storage of radio- active waste from submarine dismantling. We will be watching the MoD to ensure they stick to their promise that no radioactive waste will be removed from submarines until a storage solution has been agreed.”

There are seven retired vessels understood to be at Rosyth: Britain’s first nuclear submarine, HMS Dreadnought, HMS Churchill, HMS Resolution, HMS Repulse, HMS Renown, HMS Revenge and HMS Swiftsure. Another eight are in Devonport, in south-west England, including the Churchill-class HMS Conqueror, which sank the Belgrano during the Falklands War in 1982.

More vessels are due for decommissioning, bringing the total to at least 27.

Minister of state for defence equipment, support and technology, Philip Dunne, said the most radioactive part of a submarine – the 70-tonne reactor pressure vessel – will be removed intact and stored whole.

He added that an interim storage site for “intermediate level waste” – the classification for the fuel that once powered the nuclear vessels – could be found in any “UK nuclear licensed and authorised sites that might be suitable”.

More than 1200 people were consulted before the MoD made the decision, said a spokeswoman.

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) regulates the disposal of nuclear waste in Scotland, as laid out under the Radioactive Substances Act 1993. The MoD is largely exempt from the act, but insisted it would work with Sepa on the pilot at Rosyth.

A Sepa spokeswoman said: “Now that Rosyth has been selected, we will require any radioactive waste generated at Rosyth to be properly disposed of.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government declined to comment, directing The Scotsman instead to the SNP.

Source – Scotsman

 

Decision to test the dismantling of nuclear submarines in Rosyth ‘right’

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A proposal to put the dismantling of redundant nuclear submarines to the test at Rosyth in Fife is the “right decision”, the local MP Thomas Docherty has said.

Defence Minister Philip Dunne has announced that redundant nuclear submarine dismantling would be trialled in Rosyth. If the process works, the remainder of the UK’s retired nuclear fleet will be cut up in both Plymouth and Rosyth.

But he announced a further consultation on where intermediate-level nuclear waste would be stored, widening the choice to include commercial and other defence sites.

The consultation will start next year, and the Rosyth pilot will not go ahead until a storage site has been identified.

Seven redundant nuclear submarines are thought to have been stored at Rosyth since the 1990s. Eight submarines are berthed at Devonport, with others due to come out of active service in the future.

Mr Docherty said: “What the MoD is saying – and I think most people in the community would agree – is that the safest most practical way is to dismantle the submarines at the two sites. I don’t think there’s widespread opposition to that. The bit that’s more controversial is what happens to the nuclear materials. The MoD have said nothing will happen until storage has been approved. ”

However, SNP Lochgelly and Cardenden Fife councillor Ian Chisholm said he was concerned Rosyth could be left as a nuclear dump for 20 years.

He said: “It’s the things that are not in the report’s conclusions I worry about not the things that are in it.

“It’s a bit of a fudge in that we are still years away from getting rid of this radiation hazard from Rosyth.

“I had hoped the hulks would be towed complete, down to Devonport where they belong and where they were serviced when Rosyth lost out on the work and kobs. It is now the MoD’s decision to dismantle one sub’s radioactive pressure vessel on site at Rosyth. The only plus point is they have decided the pressure vessel should be removed in one piece but the fly in the ointment is where that piece should be stored.

“The MoD now say that if the pilot is successful the remaining subs will be dismanted at both Rosyth and Devonport but I take that with a pinch of salt. From previous MoD discussions it seems the pressure vessels are too “hot” to go straight to long term storage and would need to cool for 20 years above ground.

“But depressingly the subs will stay exactly as they are until a suitable Intermediate Level Waste site is selected.”

MoD programme manager John Davis said: “Decisions have now been taken, subject to regulatory and other statutory approvals, on where the initial phases of submarine dismantling will take place…

“No radioactive waste will be removed from the submarines, however, without a disposal or storage solution being agreed.”

Source – The Courier

UK Nuclear submarines will be dismantled in Plymouth and Rosyth

THE Ministry of Defence has confirmed that old nuclear submarines will be cut up in Devonport.

But fears that Plymouth could become the UK’s nuclear graveyard have been eased.

Defence Minister Philip Dunne said yesterday that submarine dismantling would be put to the test in Rosyth in Scotland. If the process works, the remainder of the UK’s retired nuclear fleet will be cut up in both Plymouth and Rosyth.

But he announced a further consultation on where intermediate-level nuclear waste would be stored, widening the choice to include commercial and other defence sites.

The consultation will start next year, and the Rosyth pilot will not go ahead until a storage site has been identified.

Fears were raised at the start of the initial consultation that intermediate-level nuclear waste could be stored in Plymouth for many years waiting for a disposal site to be chosen.

There are thought to be about seven redundant nuclear submarines now stored in Devonport. Their nuclear reactors have been removed.

Oliver Colvile, the MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said: “I would have some concerns if it was going to be stored in Plymouth. The best place to go would be Sellafield.”

Mr Colvile said the dismantling project reinforced the case to keep Devonport as one of the UK’s strategic naval bases. “To maintain the skills base in between dismantling, the Royal Navy has to make sure surface ship refitting happens here.

“Plymouth without the Royal Navy would be a shame. About 25,000 people in the city’s travel to work area depend on defence industries in some way.”

Alison Seabeck, Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View, said the news made it less likely that the city would be seen as the country’s nuclear graveyard.

“The fact that they are widening the scope for an intermediate-level waste site suggests that they are not looking at Plymouth. But they are pushing the project into the long grass to save money. The time scale is very long.

“I do think it’s a good thing that the pilot is being done in Rosyth to make sure the process is right.”

But she said the dismantling process was “really quite tidy and clean”.

A Plymouth City Council spokesman said: “We anticipated that Devonport would be one of the locations for the dismantling of decommissioned submarines given its highly skilled and experienced workforce.

“The council’s response to the consultation was clear that Devonport is not a suitable location for the storage of intermediate level waste and this remains our position.

“The MoD’s statement says no radioactive waste will be removed from the submarines until a storage solution is agreed and we will want to ensure this remains the case.

“This is a very important issue for Plymouth and the MoD need to be open and transparent about its plans and it needs to consult fully at every stage.”

Source – This is Plymouth