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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 5 November, 2002, 19:20 GMT
Plan for nuclear submarine return
HMS Tireless grounded in Gibraltar
The submarines would use a berth in Southampton
Nuclear submarines could return to Southampton docks under proposals put forward by the Royal Navy.

Defence leaders want to restore the docks as a berth for the submarines after an 18-month absence.

Southampton City Council had forced the navy to remove nuclear submarines from the dock's Z berth after pressure from local residents.

However one nuclear submarine expert has criticised the proposals because the yard is so near a major city.

It is ridiculous to sail a submarine with a nuclear reactor system into a major city of 200,000 souls

Dr John Large
Residents met Southampton councillors on Monday to ask them to block the new plan.

If the go-ahead is given any of the Royal Navy's 15 Trafalgar-class or Swiftsure-class submarines could visit Southampton - as well as foreign submarines carrying nuclear weapons.

Dr John Large, a nuclear expert who has advised the Royal Navy and helped Russia raise the Kursk submarine, called the proposal "sheer lunacy".

He told BBC News Online: "It is ridiculous to sail a submarine with a nuclear reactor system into a major city of 200,000 souls.

"Nothing makes the Royal Navy immune from mistakes. Chernobyl wasn't designed to blow up and the Kursk wasn't designed to sink.

"It should be for the people of Southampton to make a decision about whether they want to bear this risk."

It is also feared the docks could become a terrorist target.

Di McDonald, of peace campaigners Nuclear Information Service, said: "This is nothing but a PR exercise by the Navy to try to recruit young people.

"There are plenty of military bases they could use instead.

'Safety upgraded'

"If there was an accident in one of the reactors thousands of people could inhale radioactive dust that causes cancer."

But a Royal Navy spokesman argued the chance of an accident was very remote.

He said: "Our safety measures are continually reviewed and upgraded.

"People in Portsmouth are used to British and American nuclear submarines coming in and out of the naval base there."


Click here to go to Southampton
See also:

21 Oct 02 | Scotland
09 Sep 02 | Europe
13 Aug 02 | England
12 Aug 02 | England
12 Aug 02 | Europe
31 Jan 02 | England
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