Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
 
   
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THE SAFETY OF TRIDENT

An assessment of the radiation risks associated with the UK Trident programme.

Introduction
Summary
Production and Development
Warhead Assembly, Transport and Storage
Trident Submarine
Reactor Accidents
Warhead Accidents
Nuclear Waste
Exposure of Workers and Sailors
Geographical Assessment
Chronological Assessment
Effect of the use of Trident in war

Introduction

In a review of nuclear weapons safety the Chief Scientific Adviser at the Ministry of Defence noted that safety issues were compartmentalised and that there was a need for a general overview of the safety of the whole Trident system. If there has since been a review the details have not been made public. This report looks at the overall safety of the Trident programme. Consideration is given to the nuclear cycle from uranium mining to decommissioning and waste storage as well as to the risks and consequences of major accidents involing nuclear warheads or a submarine reactor.

Summary

A major accident could occur on a Trident submarine, on which there is both a nuclear reactor and nuclear armed missiles. A reactor accident could be on a scale similar to the Chernobyl disaster. There could be an accident involving nuclear warheads during their assembly, transport or storage which would scatter plutonium dust over a wide area and subsequently induce cases of cancer. There are risks associated with the production of radioactive materials for the Trident programme. Large quantities of nuclear waste will be produced, some of which will remain a radiation hazard for thousands of years. The risks are both past, present and future. They affect a wide area within and beyond the UK and are particularly great around the Clyde Submarine Base.

Abbreviations

AWE..........Atomic Weapons Establishment
BNF............British Nuclear Fuels
Bq................Becquerel
EAGL.........Emergency Action Guidance Level
EHJ.............Explosives Handling Jetty, Coulport
ERL.............Emergency Reference Level
HSE.............Health and Safety Executive
HEU............Highly Enriched Uranium
Hex.............Uranium Hexafluoride
IAEA...........International Atomic Energy Authority
ICRP...........International Commission for Radiological Protection
MEA............Mechanical Engineering Artificer
MEO............Mechanical Engineering Officer
MoD............Ministry of Defence
MSU............Missile Service Unit
mSv..............Millisievert
NII...............Nuclear Installations Inspectorate
NRPB..........National Radiological Protection Board
Pu.................Plutonium
PWR............Pressurised Water Reactor
RBM............Re-entry Body Magazines
RBPB..........Re-entry Body Process Building
RCT.............Resin Catch Tank
RIM..............Ready Issue Magazines
RNAD..........Royal Naval Armaments Depot
RRA..............Rolls Royce and Associates
RSPB............Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
RV.................Re-entry Vehicle
SMCS............Submarine Manoeuvre and Command System
SRD...............Safety and Reliability Directorate of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
Sv...................Sievert
TCHD Mk 2...Truck Cargo Heavy Duty Mark 2
UCTPs............Used Cores Transport Packages
UKAEA...........United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
VSEL................Vickers Shipbuilders Engineering Limited

This report was made possible thanks to assistance from: Dumbarton District Council, East Lothian District Council, City of Edinburgh District Council, Falkirk District Council, Grampian Regional Council, Inverness District Council, Motherwell District Council, Nithsdale District Council, Skye and Lochalsh District Council, Strathclyde Regional Council and West Lothian District Council. Scottish CND has also received assistance from Central Regional Council, Glasgow City Council and Lothian Regional Council. We wish to acknowledge the assistance with research and the provision of photographs from Faslane Peace Camp and Jim Chestnut.