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BBC Scotland's Aileen Clarke
"It would be a first if the waste was stored on the ground"
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Sunday, 14 May, 2000, 08:05 GMT 09:05 UK
Rosyth 'dump' fear denied
Trident sub
Submarine waste is currently stored at sea
The operators of the Rosyth naval dockyard have denied that the base will become a dumping ground for the UK's nuclear submarine waste.

Babcock Rosyth, which runs the base, says its pioneering plan to decommission submarines is "perfectly straightforward" and will not lead to an influx of radioactive materials into Scotland.

The company spoke out after the Ministry of Defence announced that the Rosyth yard would be conducting a three-year feasibility study into dismantling HMS Renown.

We do not intend to bring other people's nuclear waste in here to be permanently stored

Murray Easton, Babcock
The scheme, which Babcock says will save hundreds of jobs, will see most of the submarine recycled and the intermediate waste kept above ground at the site.

Friends of the Earth spokesman, Kevin Dunion, said he was concerned the pilot project would turn into a long-term venture and Rosyth would become a nuclear waste dump used by the rest of the UK.

"If Babcock is seen as jumping the gun and putting Rosyth first in terms of actually storing this kind of waste on land, it might become the preferred repository for such waste for some years to come.

Kevin Dunion
Kevin Dunion: "Dump" fears
"In the absence of a long term solution, we could have submarine waste from other parts of the country," said Mr Dunion.

But Babcock Rosyth's managing director, Murray Easton, denied Mr Dunion's scenario.

He said: "What we are doing is utilising the skills and experience that we have got on a project which is perfectly straight forward for us.

"We do not intend to bring other people's nuclear waste in here to be a permanently stored."

Mr Easton added: "In the US and France, the reactor compartment is taken out of the submarine and stored in a desert.

"What we are talking about is actually dismantling that reactor compartment down to the level whereby 85% can actually be taken away from Rosyth as low-level waste to Cumbria or for release to be recycled steel."

It has been recognised by the MoD that Britain's Naval dockyards at Devonport and Rosyth will soon no longer have the space to keep afloat vessels which are not in service.

At present, 11 decommissioned nuclear submarines are stored at the two sites.

Three more submarines are due to be taken out of service by 2012.

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See also:

12 Aug 99 | Sci/Tech
UK 'must heed nuclear waste fears'
06 Mar 00 | Scotland
Nuclear sub crash inquiry
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