Tag Archives: Rosyth

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