The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today called on the Defence Secretary to guarantee that the public’s opinion will be properly heard on the controversial project to cut-up and store redundant nuclear submarine waste. This call comes following the resignation of a project advisor, who stated that “the MoD is ignoring its own advisory group. The integrity of the project, any openness, transparency and accountability has disappeared” and “I can no longer bear to see tax-payers’ money being spent on it”.
Advisor Peter Lanyon, representing NGOs and their members, resigned from the project’s consultation group in protest also at the sacking of two other advisors Jane Hunt and Bill Thompson. The two academic specialists in public consultation from Lancaster University’s Centre for the Study of Environmental Change had previously run two public consultations on the Submarine Decommissioning Project (SDP), previously known as the ISOLUS Project in 2001 and 2003.
In the 2003 public consultation commissioned by the Ministry of Defence, respondents were insistent that “the management and storage of nuclear waste should not take place within a city, in close proximity to housing, schools and hospitals.”
Now there are growing fears that the government is attempting to ignore public opinion on plans to make Devonport Dockyard, in central Plymouth, the UK site for storing and processing radioactive waste from obsolete nuclear powered submarines. The radioactive waste could potentially be stored for many decades at the site until a deep-level national waste-store for all nuclear materials is created.
Despite such recommendations, ironically including in the 2001 consultation that “openness and trust should be pursued by the MoD” , yet another public consultation is planned. Campaigners are concerned that unlike previous consultations, which were conducted by Lancaster University, the MoD has hired a commercial PR company, Green Issues Communications.
CND campaigners and environmentalists in Plymouth, seen as the most likely site for the dismantling work, have long warned of the unsuitability of a city-centre site for this hazardous work. Last Saturday, hundreds demonstrated in Plymouth under the slogan ‘Stop the nuclear dump’ (photographs available).
Tony Staunton, Plymouth CND campaigner and Secretary of Plymouth’s Trades Union Council said: “With a new public consultation the government is desperately trying to sidestep previous consultations and is ignoring the voices of the public, and especially the people of Plymouth. With our nearest primary school just 400 metres from radioactive contamination, there is outrage locally at Plymouth becoming the national centre for storing nuclear waste from obsolete submarines. This includes extremely toxic metals and equipment, not just so-called low level waste. The private owners, Babcock Marine, hope to make billions in profits from contaminating our city for the next hundred years. It is an outrage!”
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For further information and interviews please contact Ben Soffa, CND’s Press Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859.
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.
Project ISOLUS, Consultation on Outline Proposals (CIOP), Final Report to the MoD, CSEC, IEPPP, Lancaster University, April 2004
Project ISOLUS Front End Consultation, Final Report to the MoD CSEC, Lancaster University September, 2001, Recommendation 8
Plymouth City Council leader Vivien Pengelly, opposes Plymouth becoming a nuclear dump in the Plymouth Herald.
CND Briefing, ‘Devonport: No to Trident, No to a nuclear dump’.
The MoD project is intended to deal with almost 4,500 tonnes of radioactive waste, as according to a Parliamentary answer, each submarine contains approximately 83 tonnes of intermediate-level waste and 81 tonnes of low-level waste when it is retired.