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Monday, 11 February, 2002, 14:53 GMT
Trident wins 11th-hour consent
HMS Vanguard launch
HMS Vanguard arrived at Devonport this month
Last-minute clearance has been given for a refit to start at Devonport dockyard on the Trident submarine HMS Vanguard.

There were fears the work would be held up because the government had not agreed to allow a 500% increase in discharges of radioactive tritium into the River Tamar, between Plymouth and Cornwall.

The Environment Agency had given approval but it had to be ratified by the government.

The Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett, gave her consent on Monday, ruling out the need for a public inquiry.

Building Trident sub
Refits can now start on Trident submarines
HMS Vanguard became the first of the fleet to arrive at Devonport at the beginning of the month.

The European Commission (EC) has questioned the legality of increasing radioactive discharges from Devonport naval dockyard in Plymouth.

Tritium builds up in the nuclear reactors of submarines and is purged during overhauls.

But the Vanguard submarines that carry Trident missiles build up far more tritium than the Trafalgar-class vessels that have been refitted at Plymouth.

The Environment Agency agreed to allow the dockyard operating company, DML, to increase tritium outputs on condition overall radioactive releases were reduced.

Click here to go to Devon
See also:

06 Nov 01 | England
Dockyard to increase nuclear waste
14 May 00 | Scotland
Rosyth 'dump' fear denied
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