There’s been a lot of misunderstanding over rumours that there was once a plan to dumb submarine hulls off the Scottish coast, but the plan was abandoned decades ago.
UPDATE DECEMBER 2018: This rumour has been confirmed documents released by the National Archives reveal.
Many people have been claiming that issues over disposal of nuclear missile carrying submarines are to be “resolved” with the potential dumping of the hulls off the Scottish coast but people we’ve spoken to suggest that this rumour is a relic from the past as it was considered and dropped due to health concerns in the 1980’s.
However, the current plan came to light last year in 2016 when the Ministry of Defence announced that they have selected a nuclear material storage site as Submarine Dismantling Project progresses.
Capenhurst Nuclear Services in Capenhurst in Cheshire was selected as the MOD’s recommendation, with AWE Aldermaston in Berkshire chosen as a fall back.
“The site at Capenhurst will be responsible for storing the Reactor Pressure Vessels (RPVs), classified as Intermediate Level radioactive Waste (ILW) from decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines. Reactor Pressure Vessels are thick steel containers that held nuclear fuel when the reactors operated. The site will store these on an interim basis until permanent disposal in a UK Geological Disposal Facility (GDF), led by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, some time after 2040.
There are two options at CNS, Capenhurst to store submarine RPVs; the option that MOD will be taking forward, is to use an existing facility, with a second on-site contingency option of constructing a new store also available.”
Defence Minister Philip Dunne said:
“When submarines in the Royal Navy fleet reach the end of their lives, we need to dispose of them in a way that is safe, secure and environmentally sound. We have worked closely with the local communities around potential sites to listen carefully to their views, and the opinions and feedback we received has played an important part in formulating our final decision.
With Capenhurst as our recommended site, we know that the radioactive waste from our decommissioned submarines will be dealt with properly and responsibly.”
The MoD has 19 former Royal Navy nuclear submarines currently stored afloat in Devonport and Rosyth, but the submarines can only be completely dismantled once the radioactive material and components have been safely removed.
The fact is, there are no plans today to dump them into the sea.