Category Archives: Media Stories

Stories relating to submarines appearing in the media or links to stories

AWE among possible nuclear submarine waste dump sites 18 Nov 2013

AWE Aldermaston and Burghfield could be among the locations the Government is casting its eye over as possible sites for waste from the nuclear submarine dismantling project.

The issue came to light at a recent meeting of the full Tadley Town Council, at which AWE local liaison committee member Mike Broad (Ind, Tadley East) said that at a recent meeting held at AWE

Burghfield, it was reiterated that the MoD was still investigating which one of a multitude of its licensed nuclear sites could be used to store nuclear waste.

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End Refuelling. Letter from NSubF to Plymouth Herald Feb 8 2012

End refuelling

TO CLARIFY my quote in the report on the Submarine Dismantling Project (The Herald, January 26), I think the issue of defuelling submarines in the Dockyard should be included in the Public Consultation.

Six of the 10 boats awaiting dismantling still have spent fuel in their reactors. In my view, this effectively means that Plymouth is hosting a Ministry of Defence authorised but unlicensed High Level Radioactive Waste store in the centre of the city. Currently, people have no say about the defuelling process.

To get spent fuel out of Plymouth as quickly and as safely as possible, there are two options. Either it is removed from decommissioned submarines and taken to the purpose-built store at Sellafield, as soon as the new crane to lift it is approved, (delayed now until 2014). Or people lobby for a new defuelling facility to be built elsewhere, but which might take many years to complete, even if somewhere is found to take it.

Crucially, I believe defuelling should not be done under a cloak of secrecy. The dates of the operation should be announced, local schoolchildren taken on day trips, and adults offered the chance to evacuate the area.

This would leave the emergency services available to attend to the needs of vulnerable people in the event of an accident, when people would have to take shelter and take potassium iodate tablets in a bid to to prevent thyroid cancer.

Compared to defuelling, dismantling a submarine reactor compartment is many categories of risk lower, as is hosting a SDP waste store. If the MoD wants Plymouth to carry the dismantling burden, it should pay for it by abandoning high-risk operations.

The key to this is an end to refuelling and perpetuation the problem.


Nuclear Submarine Forum

Strong Resistance to Rosyth being used for Nuclear Storage – The Courier 2 Feb 2012

Local consultation finds strong resistance to Rosyth being used for nuclear storage

Rosyth has said an overwhelming no to nuclear waste from redundant submarines being stored locally.
Rosyth dockyard

The majority of people living in communities surrounding the dockyard who have taken part in a Fife Council consultation exercise — dubbed the Rosyth Referendum — have rejected the idea.

With the Ministry of Defence’s nationwide consultation exercise on what happens to Britain’s fleet of decommissioned submarines drawing to a close in a matter of weeks, Fife Council decided to hold a local survey.

Local SNP councillor Douglas Chapman told The Courier: ”We have taken account of extensive local views and opinions on this issue and we are currently agreeing a council position which would recommend that these submarines and all their nuclear waste be moved out of Rosyth permanently.

”The report as currently presented by council officers will be subject to amendment from the administration and that position, I believe, will respect the views of those who replied to the Fife Council survey on the matter.

”While our final position is not yet finalised, there is a clear view locally that people are uncomfortable with the nuclear waste stored on site and with the prospect of more nuclear waste being stored there long term.

”They’ve been in our backyard for long enough and it’s time to utilise the part of the dockyard the subs use for more sustainable, commercial activity that would create many more jobs.

”Weighing heavily on our mind is the dreadful state of affairs that has been allowed to happen at Dalgety Bay and if the MoD and the British Government have not taken that issue seriously enough, you can imagine why people around Rosyth would want this nuclear legacy removed as soon as practically possible.”

Over 7,000 questionnaires were distributed to every household in Rosyth, North Queensferry, Limekilns and Charlestown. The survey was also available online.

Fife Council was pleased to see a high response rate with nearly 1,000 replying, with a ”breadth and detail of comments” showing local interest and knowledge. See full article

Debate on Scrapping of N-Subs -Plymouth Herald Monday, January 23, 2012

Debate on Scrapping of N-Subs

CAMPAIGNERS are holding a meeting to give people a last chance to have their say on the dismantling of nuclear submarines.

Groups including the Campaign Against Nuclear Storage and Radiation and the Green Party want people to speak out on the Ministry of Defence’s plans on Wednesday.

The MoD has held an extensive consultation over the last two months on how the Navy should dispose of an ageing fleet of nuclear submarines. The plans are to store intermediate waste in Devonport or Scotland and the deadline for submitting a response is February 17.

Organisers of the meeting in the city centre are calling the issue ‘the most important decision affecting the people of Plymouth in five generations’.

Ian Avent, of CANSAR, said Plymouth could effectively become a ‘nuclear scrapyard’.

He added: “What impact will this have on a city with aspirations as a world city of tourism?”

The groups, also including the Nuclear Submarine Forum and Transition Plymouth, want waste dispersed at several sites, including Scotland.

The meeting is being held at 171 Armada Way, opposite the Armada Centre, from 7pm on Wednesday. Help will be given with consultation forms.  article

Nuclear sub dismantling discussed at Dunfermline event – BBC News 19th Nov 2011

Nuclear sub dismantling discussed at Dunfermline event

The fate of seven nuclear submarines berthed at the Rosyth dockyard in Fife is being discussed at the first in a series of consultation events.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said it will run out of room to store its old nuclear submarines in 2020.

It is seeking public opinion on how and where the submarines should be broken up, and what should happen to the radioactive material on board.

The first public meeting is being held in Dunfermline.

Rosyth in Fife and Devonport in Plymouth are the two preferred sites being considered as locations for removing the radioactive material from the vessels.

Seven nuclear submarines have been stored at Rosyth since the 1990s.

Ten more are berthed at Devonport, with others due to come out of active service in the future.

Fife Council said it would be asking local residents their opinion before it submitted its views.

The MoD has other events planned for Scotland before the consultation ends in February.

BBC Scotland’s Cameron Buttle was given special access to the submarines   See Video

Plans to dismantle N-subs at yard explained in workshops – Saltash People 8th Dec 2011

Plans to dismantle N-subs at yard explained in workshops
THE public in Torpoint have been able to speak their minds and learn about controversial plans to cut up ageing nuclear submarines.
A public consultation event took place at Torpoint Town Hall concerning a nuclear dismantling project in Devonport.

The event continued yesterday with special workshops beginning at 11.30am, 1pm, 3pm, 4.30pm and 6pm.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) asked local people their opinions as it considered where to dismantle decommissioned subs in the future.

The project could be based either at Devonport Dockyard or at Rosyth in Scotland.

At the weekend the MoD’s Submarine Dismantling team returned to the region to stage public exhibitions in Saltash.

Last month a similar five-day consultation event at the Guildhall attracted about 400 people and organisers said a real cross-section of people visited with a diverse range of views – mainly about the safety of the work.

Military chiefs earmark Devonport as the “more reasonable proposition” for the work in their consultation document.

The document states that the ‘proposed option’ is to undertake initial dismantling at both Devonport and Rosyth.

But it adds that the option to use Rosyth Dockyard only is the “least attractive” in terms of cost. An assessment of all three dismantling site options will be revisited in light of public consultation responses.

see video

Nuclear submarine dismantling at Devonport and Fife sites recommended BBC News 28 Oct 2012

Nuclear submarine dismantling at Devonport and Fife sites recommended

A Trident submarine Seven disused submarines are stored at Rosyth dockyard and 10 at Devonport

The Ministry of Defence has revealed it wants to dismantle nuclear submarines stored at Devonport in Plymouth and Rosyth in Fife at both sites.

Ten decommissioned submarines are currently stored at Devonport and seven at Rosyth – 10 remain in service.

The MoD said its preferred option was to “undertake initial dismantling at both Devonport and Rosyth”.

However a consultation document issued earlier said dismantling at Rosyth was the “least attractive option”.

The document for the Submarine Dismantling Project said this would involve transporting 20 submarines to Scotland.
‘Responsible operator’

“Dismantling at Devonport only, on the other hand, remains a more reasonable proposition,” the report said.

On its website the MoD said the work would include removing all radioactive material, mainly metalwork, which had become radioactive during use.  see article

Should N-subs? be dismantled in city? Plymouth Herald 28 Oct 2011

ONE of the most controversial proposals to affect Plymouth in generations is set to be thrust firmly into the public domain from today.

The Ministry of Defence has today begun a 16-week consultation exercise exploring the options for dismantling decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines.

The consultation aims to find a permanent home for The Submarine Dismantling Project (SDP) – either in Plymouth, or Scotland.

Peter Luff MP, The Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, yesterday released a statement to the House of Commons regarding the SDP.

“Submarines in afloat storage are maintained safely, in a similar way to operational submarines,” he said.

“As they age, however, and as further submarines leave service, the cost to the taxpayer of maintaining them is rising significantly, and space to store them is running out.

“This consultation will seek the public’s views on the proposals that have been developed by the MoD’s Submarine Dismantling Project for dismantling and disposing of the submarines in a safe, secure and environmentally responsible way.”

There are currently 27 submarines (of past and current classes from Dreadnought to Vengeance) which could be dismantled.

As it stands Devonport and Rosyth in Scotland are the candidate sites for the project which will see radioactive waste removed from the submarines and taken away.

A series of events, including exhibitions, displays and workshops, will be held in and around Devonport and Rosyth.

National workshops will also be held in accessible locations in England and Scotland to inform people of the proposals.

There are three key decisions on which the MoD is seeking the public’s views:

How the radioactive waste is removed;

Where the radioactive waste is removed;

And options for storing the waste that cannot be disposed of immediately.

The main activities required to dismantle submarines include:

Initial Dismantling: All radioactive material on the submarine will be removed.

This is mainly metalwork inside the reactor compartment that has become radioactive during use.

Interim Storage: The radioactive waste that cannot be disposed of immediately will be placed into ‘interim’ storage, until a disposal solution is available sometime after 2040.

Ship-recycling: Once the radioactive material has been removed, the submarine hull will be broken up and recycled in a similar way to Royal Navy surface ships.

Any other hazardous waste will be disposed of through existing permitted disposal routes.

All the responses received during the consultation process will be considered by the MoD during its further analysis of the options.

A final decision will then be made and planning applications for the specific site will be submitted.

An announcement is expected to be made in 2013.

The consultation period will run from today until February 17 next year.

This period has been extended from the 12-week minimum to account for the Christmas holidays and in recognition of the interest in the project.

Last night the Ministry of Defence said it could not provide details of where and when exactly the consultation events would be staged in the Plymouth area.

Further details of the events were today expected to be announced by the MoD.

Full details of the Submarine Dismantling Project are available on the website:

Event details are expected to be listed in full on this website.

YES: Peter Smith, Chairman of the industrial trade unions at Devonport Dockyard.

DEVONPORT is already a centre of excellence for submarine refits and we have one of the most highly trained work forces in this field anywhere in the world.

Ensuring that this expertise is retained in the Plymouth region is vital to both the wider economy and also more directly to the individuals concerned.

Not only is there an existing workforce of 4,000 employed by the submarine programme, but future apprentices depend on high quality engineering projects such as this to learn their trade and ensure a future career.

At a time when unemployment in Plymouth is at a 13-year high, the jobs provided by this project cannot be overlooked.

The nuclear industry is one of the most highly regulated in the world, and Devonport leads the way in many areas.

All work is carried out in a thoroughly controlled manner and closely monitored by the trade unions, to ensure neither workers or the local residents are exposed to any hazards.

The work involved in dismantling submarines is less hazardous than the routine work currently undertaken at the Dockyard.

The key is in the word “dismantling” – this is highly controlled engineering work, not some rough and ready, large scale ship breaking process.

There appears to be a concern that this work carries some form of risk which could affect Plymouth but in reality, this simply isn’t true.

All fuel is removed from the boats before any dismantling work commences leaving a series of very stable and “ordinary” components to be dismantled. In fact, the average operator involved in submarine dismantling will receive a radiation dose over the lifetime of the project only equivalent to one tenth of the average natural background dose that all of us receive in the South West of England every year.

The submarines are stored at Devonport already, so why wouldn’t we want to do this work that will provide valuable employment, and is less hazardous than our current work?

This project will actually reduce risk and not increase it. The submarines, and any waste generated through their dismantling, will ultimately be disposed of off site, therefore, removing the disused boats from Plymouth forever.

NO: Jeremy Guise, Chairman, City of Plymouth Unison.

SOMETIMES on a Monday morning, an eerie sound can be heard wailing across Plymouth as the alarms are tested at Devonport.

It provides both reassurance that safety procedures are in place – and a disconcerting reminder of the accident hazards behind the dockyard wall.

The proposed Submarine Dismantling Project represents a significant intensification of the hazard posed by the nuclear dockyard.

Whatever rigorous safety procedures are in place, no human activity is completely risk-free.

It is the magnitude of the consequences of a nuclear accident that make it unacceptable to locate such a facility in the middle of a city of 250,000 people.

Although nothing on the scale of Chernobyl or Fukushima, Devonport is not immune from accidents. There have been nine radioactive leaks since 1997.

The impact of a significant accident in the dockyard would be devastating.

It would not remain confined behind its walls but would affect a much wider area.

Within a few hundred metres of the dockyard wall there is a primary school and established residential communities.

Why then has Plymouth been chosen, as one of just two potential sites, to be worldwide guinea pigs for an unproven, and potentially dangerous technique, of removing the section of hull containing the reactor core of obsolete nuclear powered submarines and cutting it up into small pieces for selling as recyclable metal?

I believe it is primarily motivated by the large profits that Babcock and the other contractors hope to earn from this process.

In return for a few specialist jobs, Plymouth would become known as the ‘Sellafield of the South West’, a poor, blighted city that the rest of the world hurries through on its way to Cornwall.

There is an alternative.

We could, like the Americans, store the hull sections containing the nuclear reactors away from settlements and regenerate the dockyard to provide thousands of new marine engineering jobs making wave and wind power machines.

Public consultation on the submarine disposal has started.

This is the most important decision the city has faced in years. I hope all those who care for the future of this city raise their voices in opposition to this proposal.