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UK’s costly struggle to deal with dead nuclear submarines

The MoD has also been slated for the cost of maintaining the subs, £30 million a year.

Rosyth to be ‘de-nuclearised’ with removal of old submarines By Ally McRoberts 27th November, 22

ALL of the laid-up nuclear submarines will be gone as part of a UK Government pledge to “de-nuclearise Rosyth” by 2035.

Councillors were given an update on the programme to remove radioactive waste and turn the seven boats that have been parked at the dockyard for decades into “tin cans and razor blades”.

The Ministry of Defence have faced heavy criticism for the delays in dealing with the nuclear legacy, with 27 Royal Navy subs to be scrapped in total.

Christine Bruce, from the Rosyth Submarine Dismantling Project, said most of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste (LLW) should be gone by the end of 2024.

She added: “The subs will take a bit longer but we’ve got a forward programme which definitely does remove them all by about 2035.

“It absolutely is our aim to do what we said all those years ago, to de-nuclearise Rosyth.”

One of the decommissioned subs, Dreadnought, has been in the Rosyth basin since 1980 and she admitted that it had been out of service for so long that a lot of the low-level radiation had “disappeared naturally”.

The MoD has also been slated for the cost of maintaining the subs, £30 million a year.

At the South and West Fife area committee yesterday (Wednesday), Ms Bruce acknowledged: “It’s taken a long time to get to where we are.

We started in 1998, I was part of it from the beginning, it’s taken quite a long time to come up with the policy and for good reasons.

“There were no easy answers. If it had been easy we would have done it a long time before now.

“The aim is to get rid of 27 submarines, of which seven are at Rosyth and the rest are, or will be, at Devonport.”

A facility to deal with the boats at Rosyth had to be brought up to date, to make sure it was safe to remove the radioactive material, with funding from the MoD.

Work started on Swiftsure in 2015-16 and around 52 tonnes of LLW was removed, with most of the metals recycled.

With lessons learned from the first sub, they progressed and removed 77 tonnes from Resolution and then 120 tonnes from Revenge.

The next step was a world first, the removal of the reactor from Revenge, the most radioactive part left in the sub, as well as the steam generators.

Next will be removing the rest of the LLW from Swiftsure so all that’s left is the reactor, which should be taken out around 2025.

The sub was to be recycled elsewhere but it’s cheaper, safer and more secure “to do the first one at Rosyth” and then sell it off to scrap merchants.

Gordon McAughey, head of internal assurance at Babcock Rosyth, added: “Hopefully, by 2026, the skyline change at Rosyth will occur where the first boat will be gone, it will be tin cans and razor blades.

“It’s a very challenging programme to build a facility to do all this work and to get all the permissions from regulators, but what I will say is we never compromise on safety for the sake of progress. We can’t compromise on safety.”

LLW is to be taken to a facility in Dorset, which should be completed next year, by 2024.

The reactors are to be taken to Capenhurst in Cheshire and it hasn’t yet been decided if they’ll be transported by road or sea.

Ms Bruce said safety and security would be paramount.


March 20, 2023 - Posted by | UK, wastes

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