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Nuclear submarines will be dismantled in Plymouth and Rosyth
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."
• All submarines leaving service undergo a final maintenance period and enter preparations for afloat storage.
– Eleven submarines laid-up defuelled
– Five submarines laid-up fuelled
– Two more planned to be laid-up fuelled
• Swiftsure & Trafalgar class submarine defuel facilities planned for 2014.
• Post 2014 out of service submarines will immediately enter a DDLP and be laid up defuelled.
For all submarines to be stored afloat:
• Classified equipment, stores and flammable materials removed.
• Rudders, hydroplanes and propellers removed.
• Nuclear fuel rods removed.
• Hull undergoes preservation package.For long-term berthing
• Fuel remains in reactor awaiting defuel facilities.
• Primary circuit is chemically treated to guarantee reactor remains inert.
Laid-Up Submarines are maintained to ensure structural, watertight
and containment integrity until submarine dismantling commences.
• Refitted UK’s nuclear submarines from late 60s (HMS DREADNOUGHT) through to 2003 (HMS SCEPTRE).
• Dockyard sold to Babcock in late nineties.
• Refitting finished in 2003, decommissioning of redundant facilities began in 2005 and completed in 2010.
• Active Waste Store remains, plus support facilities. Contains much-reduced quantity of radioactive waste
• Seven LUSMs are berthed safely in the non-tidal basin in Rosyth and 9 are currently stored in Devonport pending an SDP solution for their removal – some were defuelled and laid up and are now stored under the terms of the Dockyard Sale Agreement
HSE-NII has continued to monitor the MoD’s progress towards implementation of the strategy for dealing with laid up submarines at Devonport. Some of these submarines are defuelled and others contain fuel.
Until the new defuelling facilities are brought into service we are satisfied that, subject to satisfactory monitoring arrangements, the redundant submarines can be safely stored in a fuelled state at Devonport.
We are also satisfied that until such time as MoD declares its submarine decommissioning strategy, submarines can be safely stored at Devonport on an interim basis.
During the reporting period, Devonport has been named as one of the candidate sites for submarine dismantling, the other being Rosyth. MoD are committed to carrying out public consultation before any major decisions are made.
First Operational Nuclear Powered Submarine
HMS Dreadnought - Decommissioned at Chatham, towed to Rosyth
Valiant Class - Hunter/Killer
HMS Valiant - decommissioned Devonport
HMS Warspite- decommissioned Devonport
HMS Churchill- decommissioned Rosyth
HMS Conqueror- decommissioned Devonport
HMS Courageous- decommissioned Devonport (Now a Museum submarine)
HMS Resolution - decommissioned Rosyth
HMS Renown - decommissioned Rosyth
HMS Repulse - decommissioned Rosyth
HMS Revenge - decommissioned Rosyth
Swiftsure Class - Hunter/Killer.
HMS Swiftsure - decommissioned Rosyth in Layup
HMS Sceptre - decommissioned Plymouth in Layup
HMS Spartan - decommissioned Plymouth in Layup
HMS Splendid - decommissioned Plymouth in Layup
HMS Sovereign - decommissioned Plymouth in Layup
HMS Superb - decommissioned Plymouth in Layup
HMS Trafalgar - decommissioned Plymouth Laid up
HMS Turbulent - decommissioned Plymouth to be Laid up
HMS Tireless decommissioned Plymouth to be Laid up
HMS Tireless decommissioned Plymouth to be Laid up
Three of Devonport’s five Trafalgar class subs - Trenchant, Talent and Triumph, are to move to Scotland by 2017, where they will join the nuclear-armed Vanguard fleet and new Astute boats as they enter service. The other two, Tireless and Torbay, will be decommissioned.