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Nuclear submarines will be cut up in Plymouth

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: March 25, 2013

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The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that old nuclear submarines will be cut up in the Westcountry.

But fears Devonport in Plymouth could become the UK's nuclear graveyard have been eased.

Defence Minister Philip Dunne has said submarine dismantling would be put to the test in Rosyth in Scotland.

If the process works, the remainder of the UK's retired nuclear fleet will be cut up in both Plymouth and Rosyth.

He announced a further consultation on where intermediate-level nuclear waste would be stored, widening the choice to include commercial and other defence sites.

The consultation will start next year, and the Rosyth pilot will not go ahead until a storage site has been identified.

Fears were raised at the start of the initial consultation that intermediate-level nuclear waste could be stored in Plymouth for many years waiting for a disposal site to be chosen. Oliver Colvile, the MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said: “I would have some concerns if it was going to be stored in Plymouth. The best place to go would be Sellafield.”

Mr Colvile said the dismantling project reinforced the case to keep Devonport as one of the UK’s strategic naval bases.

He added: “Plymouth without the Royal Navy would be a shame.

“About 25,000 people in the city’s travel-to-work area depend on defence industries in some way.”

A Plymouth City Council spokesman said: “The MoD’s statement says no radioactive waste will be removed from the submarines until a storage solution is agreed and we will want to ensure this remains the case.

“This is a very important issue for Plymouth and the MoD need to be open and transparent about its plans and it needs to consult fully at every stage.”

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