UK Defence Minister Philip Dunne has announced that redundant nuclear submarine dismantling would be trialled in Rosyth (Scotland). If the process works, the remainder of the UK’s retired nuclear fleet will be cut up in both Plymouth (near London) 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 (largest naval base in Western Europe and the sole nuclear repair and refuellng facility for the Royal Navy located in the city of Plymouth), 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…. 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.”
Decision to test the dismantling of nuclear submarines in Rosyth ‘right’, The Courier.co.uk. Mar.25, 2013