The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) is under fire for failing to dispose of cold war-era nuclear-powered submarines that are being left to rust in harbors across Britain.
The National Audit Office (NAO) has said in a highly critical new report, that the MoD now has twice as many submarines in storage as it does in service and has not disposed of any of the 20 U-boats decommissioned since 1980.
The auditors said nine of the vessels still contain irradiated fuel and warned the government that its failure to address the issue risks damaging Britain’s international reputation as a “responsible nuclear power.”
The decommissioned vessels are moored at Devonport in Plymouth and at Rosyth on the Firth of Forth. The cost of disposing of each naval relic is estimated at £96 million.
Heavily redacted MoD minutes have previously revealed that nuclear-powered submarines are “potentially vulnerable to a structural failure” resulting in a radioactive “shine” that “poses a significant risk to life to those in close proximity.”
The MoD believes it will cost £7.5 billion over the next 120 years to dispose of all its nuclear-powered submarines. The de-fueling process is not due to start again until 2023.
Activists are alarmed by the NAO’s report. Arthur West, chair of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), called it “really very worrying” and said radioactive waste from nuclear submarines was “plaguing the Scottish coast.”
The report would “shake public confidence in the MoD’s capacity to deal with this vital health and safety issue, especially given the amount of public money and effort put into these discussions.”
No permanent safe storage facility has yet been found, but our government chooses to produce more of this toxic waste through a nuclear weapons system that it cannot afford.
This NAO report must ring alarm bells at the highest levels. The common sense solution is to cancel Trident replacement.
There are 13 old nuclear submarines tied up in Devonport right now and little room for the ones that will come out of service soon. Time, money and space are running out.
Morning Star / ABC Flash Point News 2019.