Ministers urged to act on nuclear safety at Rosyth
For immediate release 23 November 2011
In response to a question from Green MSP Patrick Harvie, Scottish Ministers have confirmed that they have opened discussions with their UK counterparts to raise concerns about the safety of decommissioned nuclear submarines stored at Rosyth. This move follows the publication of a Defence Nuclear Environment and Safety Board report which raises the "risk that it will become increasingly difficult to maintain that the defence nuclear programmes are being managed with due regard to the protection of the workforce, the public and the environment".
Patrick Harvie MSP said:
"The Scottish Government is right to be concerned. The nuclear watchdog is being careful with its words, but the message is very serious: they cannot be sure that work at Rosyth is safe, and there are real risks to the safety of the public, the workforce and the environment.
"The consequences of an accident would be appalling, and it's vital that UK Ministers don't ignore this early warning siren. It would be utterly reckless if they decide to sit on their hands and pretend there's nothing wrong. If Scotland is to be stuck with the aftermath of the UK's risky, pointless and unpopular nuclear weapons programmes, safety must come first and improvements must be made urgently."
The question and answer provided read as follows.
S4W-04000 Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Scottish Green Party): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it has met the Ministry of Defence to discuss the risk of accidents and radioactive leaks from nuclear submarines at Rosyth as a result of UK Government reductions in defence spending.
Mr Richard Lochhead :It is for SEPA, the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator to satisfy themselves that there are no environmental or safety risks from the decommissioned and defuelled nuclear powered submarines currently berthed at Rosyth.
Nevertheless, the Scottish Government have significant concerns with the findings of the 2010 Assurance Report from the Defence Nuclear Environment and Safety Board. While we note that the Report states that none of the issues covered in the Report, including the decommissioning and disposal of the nuclear powered submarines, present an immediate safety concern, collectively ‘they pose the risk that it will become increasingly difficult to maintain that the defence nuclear programmes are being managed with due regard to the protection of the workforce, the public and the environment’.
We are seeking clarity from the Ministry of Defence on the steps that are being taken to address the serious issues identified in that Report.