MOD ad­mits hun­dreds more safety in­ci­dents at Clyde nu­clear base

The Herald - - NEWS - JU­LIA HUNT

MORE than 700 safety events have been recorded at Scot­land’s nu­clear bases since 2006, the Min­istry of De­fence (MOD) has said.

De­fence Min­is­ter Stu­art An­drew re­vealed the fig­ures in let­ters to SNP MP Dei­dre Brock.

A to­tal of 789 nu­clear safety events were recorded at HM Naval Base Clyde at Faslane and nearby Royal Naval Ar­ma­ments De­pot Coul­port be­tween 2006 and 2018.

Ear­lier, the MOD had dis­closed 505 in­ci­dents had oc­curred at Faslane, where most of the UK’S nu­clear sub­ma­rine fleet is based.

Now, an­other let­ter shows 284 in­ci­dents took place at Coul­port, where the nu­clear war­heads are stored and loaded on to sub­marines, over the same pe­riod.

In the let­ter, Mr An­drew said: “I would wish to reit­er­ate that the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and re­port­ing of these low-level events and near misses is ac­tively en­cour­aged in line with In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency guid­ance for pro­tect­ing peo­ple and the en­vi­ron­ment ... since such data can pro­vide valu­able les­sons to help avoid more sig­nif­i­cant events.”

A Cat­e­gory A in­ci­dent took place in 2008 when wa­ter over­flowed from a now-de­com­mis­sioned pri­mary ef­flu­ent barge.

Cat­e­gory A events have “ac­tual or high po­ten­tial for ra­dioac­tive re­lease to the en­vi­ron­ment of quan­ti­ties in ex­cess of IRR99 no­ti­fi­ca­tion lim­its”.

Sub­se­quent sam­pling in­di­cated low lev­els of tri­tium and “barely de­tectable lev­els” of cobalt.

The in­ci­dent was re­ported to the De­fence Nu­clear Safety Reg­u­la­tor and the Scot­tish En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency and the as­sessed re­lease to the Gare Loch was less on 0.0001% of the base’s ap­proved an­nual dis­charge lev­els.

The MOD had listed two Cat­e­gory A in­ci­dents at Faslane, from 2006 and 2007, but the min­is­ter said in “nei­ther event was any ra­di­o­log­i­cal con­tam­i­na­tion ev­i­dent”.

He added: “None of the events caused harm to the health of any mem­ber of staff on the naval base or to any mem­ber of the pub­lic.”

Mr An­drew said the MOD takes all in­ci­dents, no mat­ter how mi­nor, “ex­tremely se­ri­ously” and that they are in­ves­ti­gated with ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures put in place.

Ms Brock said: “It’s a shock­ing record of ac­ci­dents and in­ci­dents where the most dan­ger­ous weapons on the planet are. One bad ac­ci­dent would be enough to wipe Scot­land out and the safety record is ap­palling.”

One bad ac­ci­dent would be enough to wipe out Scot­land

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