Derelict British nuclear submarines containing radioactive material are currently stored at Devonport and Rosyth

The British Nuclear Tests Veterans Association offers support to veterans, children and grandchildren of servicemen and women who participated in the British programme of nuclear tests.

BNTVA has put on record its concern about derelict British nuclear submarines containing radioactive material will not be fully dismantled and disposed of for 25 years.


HMS Dreadnought, the Navy’s first nuclear powered submarine which has been waiting to be dismantled since it retired 36 years ago. CREDIT: JOHN SMART/PRESS ASSOCIATION

The Royal Navy has 19 old nuclear-powered submarines stored in ports waiting to be dismantled, with another eight due to retire and join them in the coming years.

Ministry of Defence officials told MPs that radioactive parts on board could not be finally disposed of until an underground dump for all of the UK’s nuclear waste has been chosen and built. That site is not due to be ready until 2040.

Stephen Lovegrove, permanent secretary at the MoD, told the Commons defence committee that a lack of money, expertise and disposal sites meant it was impossible to speed up the process.

He said: “There are two big factors. One of them is money. We have to operate within the budgets that we have with this. We have a dearth of nuclear engineers, and to a certain extent civil engineers, right across the country.”

The MoD said contaminated material would be held temporarily at a storage facility in Capenhurst in Cheshire until the underground site was ready, but said dismantling of the first submarine was still not scheduled to begin for at least five years.

A spokeswoman said the MoD was a “responsible nuclear operator” and had a “safe, secure and environmentally sound programme to dismantle submarines when they come to the end of their life”.




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