The Scottish National Party has called for an inquiry into the Ministry of Defence’s failure to decommission any nuclear-powered submarines since the 1980s.
A new report by the National Audit Office criticised the MoD for its ‘dismal’ failure to clean up 20 out-of-service nuclear submarines.
9 submarines are berthed in populous areas with ageing nuclear fuel still inside and the process of defueling the subs is not scheduled to take place until 2023.
The SNP defence spokesman Stewart McDonald told The Scotsman that UK Government ministers needed to be held to account and “face up to the consequences of their actions”.
“This is a scandal of epic proportions. Eye watering sums of money are being wasted by the MoD and it is time that those responsible – ministers and officials of the current and previous governments – are called to answer how this sorry situation has been arrived at.
“A public inquiry would allow for the proper scrutiny that the public would expect. The wasting of hundreds of millions of pounds cannot simply be written off. It is vital that the authors of this mess explain themselves. The public have a right to know what advice was being given, how sound was that advice and where was sound advice being ignored by ministers?
“Carrying on with submarine renewal whilst this hangs over the MoD is wholly unacceptable. “People in communities like Rosyth will be living with the consequences of the UK’s nuclear folly for years to come. “20 submarines are currently rotting on our coasts with a £7.5 billion pound price tag to maintain and then dispose of them. Ministers, past and present, along with officials who advised them on this disastrous course of action, must be held to account.”
Kate Hudson, general secretary of CND, responding to yesterday’s NAO report, said:
“We welcome this very frank NAO report which puts MoD incompetence and negligence in the spotlight. The MoD is overreaching itself financially: it clearly cannot afford to buy a new nuclear weapons system and maintain its other spending requirements. Spending on Trident replacement when it can’t afford to safely dispose of old nuclear subs is grossly irresponsible.
‘”Even worse are the health and safety risks presented by years of MoD inactivity. There is a backlog of subs waiting to be dismantled, some of which contain nuclear fuel waste that will be radioactive for thousands of years. No permanent safe storage facility has yet been found, but our government chooses to produce more of this toxic waste through a nuclear weapons system that it cannot afford.
“This NAO report must ring alarm bells at the highest levels. The common-sense solution is to cancel Trident replacement.”