The Plymouth Herald – Should N-subs be dismantled in city?

28 October 2011 – ONE of the most controversial proposals to affect Plymouth in generations is set to be thrust firmly into the public domain from today.

The Ministry of Defence has today begun a 16-week consultation exercise exploring the options for dismantling decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines.

The consultation aims to find a permanent home for The Submarine Dismantling Project (SDP) – either in Plymouth, or Scotland.

Peter Luff MP, The Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, yesterday released a statement to the House of Commons regarding the SDP.

“Submarines in afloat storage are maintained safely, in a similar way to operational submarines,” he said.

“As they age, however, and as further submarines leave service, the cost to the taxpayer of maintaining them is rising significantly, and space to store them is running out.

“This consultation will seek the public’s views on the proposals that have been developed by the MoD’s Submarine Dismantling Project for dismantling and disposing of the submarines in a safe, secure and environmentally responsible way.”

There are currently 27 submarines (of past and current classes from Dreadnought to Vengeance) which could be dismantled.

As it stands Devonport and Rosyth in Scotland are the candidate sites for the project which will see radioactive waste removed from the submarines and taken away.

A series of events, including exhibitions, displays and workshops, will be held in and around Devonport and Rosyth.

National workshops will also be held in accessible locations in England and Scotland to inform people of the proposals.

There are three key decisions on which the MoD is seeking the public’s views:
- How the radioactive waste is removed;
- Where the radioactive waste is removed;
- And options for storing the waste that cannot be disposed of immediately.

The main activities required to dismantle submarines include:
- Initial Dismantling: All radioactive material on the submarine will be removed.
This is mainly metalwork inside the reactor compartment that has become radioactive during use.
- Interim Storage: The radioactive waste that cannot be disposed of immediately will be placed into ‘interim’ storage, until a disposal solution is available sometime after 2040.
- Ship-recycling: Once the radioactive material has been removed, the submarine hull will be broken up and recycled in a similar way to Royal Navy surface ships.

Any other hazardous waste will be disposed of through existing permitted disposal routes.

All the responses received during the consultation process will be considered by the MoD during its further analysis of the options.

A final decision will then be made and planning applications for the specific site will be submitted.

An announcement is expected to be made in 2013.

The consultation period will run from today until February 17 next year.

This period has been extended from the 12-week minimum to account for the Christmas holidays and in recognition of the interest in the project.

Last night the Ministry of Defence said it could not provide details of where and when exactly the consultation events would be staged in the Plymouth area.

Further details of the events were today expected to be announced by the MoD.

Full details of the Submarine Dismantling Project are available on the website:http://www.mod.uk/submarinedismantling