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In Scotland, UK’s old nuclear submarines are left to rot

The nuclear graveyard just five miles from Edinburgh, where Cold War submarines are left to ‘rot’There has been repeated criticism of the fact seven contaminated nuclear subs have been laid up at Rosyth dockyard since the 1980s.  Edinburgh Live,  By

Hilary Mitchell, Editor, 16 OCT 2020 

A recent viral tweet has brought fresh attention to a decades-old controversy in Edinburgh’s back yard: namely, a hulking fleet of decommissioned, but still radioactive, Cold War nuclear submarines.  The seven defunct submarines – Dreadnought, Churchill, Swiftsure, Revenge, Resolution, Repulse and Renown – have been laid up since the 1980s, stored at Rosyth in Fife while arrangements are made to safely dispose of them.

All of the subs have had their toxic fuel removed, but parts of the vessels, including the reactor compartments, are still contaminated with radiation.

Seven of the submarines have been in storage for longer than they were in service with the Royal Navy.

A lack of money and a lack of suitable disposal sites are amongst the issues causing lengthy delays to the disposal process. In 2016 the Ministry of Defence admitted it could take until 2040 to completely dispose of the retired fleet.

This week, an Edinburgh Twitter user took to the social media platform to complain about the fact the historic submarines were still in the Forth, saying they had been ‘dumped’ to ‘rust’ in the dockyard. The tweet has since been shared over 800 times………

The MoD has said it will dispose of the fleet “as soon as practically possible”.

According to an article on Scottish investigative journalism site The Ferret, in the 1980s the UK government tried to hatch a secret plan to dump the radioactive hulks of the problematic and hard-to-dispose of subs in the sea off north west Scotland, documents released by the National Archives reveal.

The Ferret say that a survey for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 1989 identified six sites for “seabed storage” of defunct naval submarines near the islands of Skye, Mull and Barra for up to 60 years – and probably longer.

According to one MoD official the aim was “to remove submarines from public view”. Another hoped that “everyone will forget about these submarines and that they will be allowed to quietly rot away indefinitely.”

The 1989 sea-dumping plan was dropped in the end, but the continuing presence of these ancient nuclear behemoths in the Forth makes it very clear that the MoD’s problem of what to do with the Cold War relics isn’t going away any time soon.

October 17, 2020 - Posted by | UK, wastes

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