Five UK nuclear facilities have been confirmed as potential sites to store waste from decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines.
A public consultation process will run from 14 November 2014 until 20 February 2015 to help determine which site is selected.
The sites, which already hold radioactive materials, are either owned by MOD, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) or industry. They are:
– the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire which are owned by MOD and run by AWE plc;
– Sellafield in west Cumbria, owned by the NDA;
– Chapelcross in Dumfriesshire, owned by the NDA;
– Capenhurst in Cheshire, which is run by Capenhurst Nuclear Service.
Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne, said:
“When the 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.
“This open and transparent public consultation process provides the opportunity to work closely with local communities near to potential sites to listen carefully to their views with the aim of delivering a solution that achieves these objectives.
“We value the views of those who have something to say about the submarine dismantling project. All of them will be considered properly as part of our decision-making process.
“After consultation we will publish a report on our findings and after we have selected a site, we will explain why we reached that decision.”
The submarine dismantling project will oversee the disposal of 27 Royal Navy nuclear submarines that are due to have left Naval service by the mid 2030’s and be defuelled, including 19 submarines that have already left service and are stored afloat at Rosyth and Devonport.
The submarines can only be completely dismantled once reactor components, which are categorised as radioactive waste, have been removed. The initial dismantling process will support up to 60 skilled jobs.
There will be a series of exhibitions and workshops close to all 5 sites – which were previously announced on a provisional shortlist on 13 February 2014, plus 2 national workshops.
The site chosen will be used for interim storage of reactor components until after 2040, when the UK Geological Disposal Facility is planned to come into operation.
Image: Darren MacDonald, Crown copyright