Tag Archives: nuclear submarines UK

The 400 Nuclear Safety Failures: Nuclear Weapons, Britain

HMS Vanguard one of the  ballistic missile submarines of the Royal Navy, UK.  Image from wikipedia

Britain’s nuclear weapons base has suffered from a dozen serious nuclear safety failures in recent years, according to official records.  Over the last six years HM Naval Base Clyde, where Britain’s Trident nuclear submarine fleet is based, suffered from nearly 400 “widespread” nuclear safety events relating to a “poor safety culture”.

In 12 of these cases the problems involved an “actual or high” risk of unplanned exposure to radiation or contained release of radiation within a building or submarine, according to information released by ministers in the last week.  Last year the number of nuclear safety events involving nuclear propulsion nearly doubled, from 57 in 2013 to 99 in 2014.  In one incident in 2012, contractors working on the base were exposed to radiation while repairing submarine equipment.

The 12 most serious events at the base, classified by the Ministry of Defence as “Category B”, are ones in which there is an “actual or high potential for a contained release [of radiation] within building or submarine or unplanned exposure to radiation”.  According to the Ministry’s own criteria, this classification is used for safety events that involve a “major failure in administrative controls or regulatory compliance”.

Other serious nuclear safety events included the unsafe operation of a crane on a jetty handling explosives, faulty radiation testing, and low-level radioactive contamination around a pipe that dumps supposedly decontaminated waste into the sea.  Despite the problems, the base has not recently suffered from any of the most serious category of safety failures – ‘Category A’ – which would have involved release into the environment in the surrounding area.

Excerpt from JON STONE,Britain’s nuclear weapons base suffers from ‘serious’ nuclear safety incidents and ‘poor safety culture, Independent, Mar. 2, 2015

The Saga to Get Rid of Nuclear Submarines: UK

UK Plymouth Naval base. Image from wikipedia

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

See also Nuclear Graveyards for Nuclear Submarines

Nuclear Submarines for Nuclear Graveyards

The Ministry of Defence want to use Rosyth Dockyard (Scotland) to dismantle submarines and store the radioactive waste material. The council has been asked to contribute to the MoD’s consultation and they want to get the opinion of local residents.  There are three possible options for the future. One is that no work is carried out at the dockyard, the second is that the submarines are dismantled but no waste is stored there and the third that both dismantling and storage take place.

Fife Council’s consultation starts on Monday and forms will be sent out to residents in Rosyth and the surrounding areas. Anyone can voice their opinion online.  Rosyth is one of the sites under consideration for dismantling the UK’s nuclear submarines which are reaching the end of their productive life.  Councillor George Kay, chair of the Police, Fire and Safety Committee, said: “Although the MoD are carrying out a consultation with residents at the moment we felt it was necessary to find out for ourselves what local people felt about it.  “Fife Council are formal consultees for the MoD and we wanted to be sure that whatever response we send back to the MoD is an accurate representation of the views of Fife’s residents.“Consultation forms are being sent to residents of Rosyth, North Queensferry, Charlestown and Limekilns asking for people’s views on the possibilities for dismantling and storage of radioactive waste material at Rosyth Dockyard.  “This is a really important issue for the future of Rosyth and Fife and it is important for us to know what Fifers think about this. I’d like to encourage as many people as possible to make their views known on this issue.”

Residents consulted on proposals to dismantle nuclear submarines at Rosyth, STV.com (Scottish News), Nov. 30, 2011