Radioactive fuel cells on a dozen disused nuclear submarines languishing in Plymouth are to be removed and taken to a site in the North of England for storage and eventual disposal.
The Ministry of Defence yesterday revealed the fate of the boats which are currently stationed at Devonport but said no date has yet been fixed for the process to begin
Defence Minister Philip Dunne said the highly toxic part of the decommissioned submarines would be removed at a date to be set.
There have been a number of leaks of nuclear waste associated with the submarines based in Devonport.
- *March 25, 2009: radioactive water escaped from HMS Turbulent while the reactor’s discharge system was being flushed.
- *November 2008: 280 litres of water likely to have been contaminated with the radioactive isotope tritium, poured from a burst hose as it was being pumped from the submarine.
- *October 2005: 10 litres of water leaked out as the main reactor circuit of HMS Victorious as it was being cleaned to reduce radiation.
- *November 2002: Around ten litres of radioactive coolant leaked from HMS Vanguard.[…]
Last year campaigners raised safety fears after the MoD said it was spending £16million to store old nuclear submarines.
A total of 19 are currently in mothballs awaiting dismantling, with the majority in Plymouth.
The boats, which have been taken out of service, have been kept in Plymouth since 1994.
Devonport is currently home to 12 submarines – eight of which are still carrying their fuel load.
Another eight submarines are to leave service over the next 15 to 20 years.