Nukewatch Quarterly Spring 2021
The British Navy is being condemned for planning to increase up to 50 times its discharges of radioactive waste into the ocean from its giant submarine base near Helensburgh, Scotland. The Ministry of Defense has asked to increase the dumping as it plans to expand the number of submarines and nuclear weapons stationed at its Faslane and Coulport bases. The liquid radioactive waste comes from the reactors that drive submarines, and from the processing of their nuclear warheads. The waste would be discharged using a proposed new pipeline.
Proposed discharges of radioactive cobalt-60 — one of the main radioactive wastes from submarine reactors — are projected to be 52 times higher than the average annual discharges over the last six years. The Navy projects annual discharges of radioactive tritium to be 30 times higher than discharges in 2018.
The Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament accused the military of endangering the population it’s supposed to protect. “There is no safe dose of radiation for a pregnant mother or an infant. The local harms caused by weapon systems make a nonsense of defense,” said campaign chair, Lynn Jamieson. “Increases in radioactive discharges at Faslane are unacceptable,” she said.
Faslane houses four nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed Vanguard class submarines — which carry Trident missiles “leased” from the United States — a nuclear-powered Trafalgar class sub, and three new nuclear-powered Astute class subs. Four new Astute class subs are scheduled for the Clyde Naval Base, and in the 2030s may include a fleet of new Dreadnought class submarines armed with Trident missiles. — The Ferret (Scotland), March 1; and Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Feb. 19, 2021