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Safety & Accidents

Faslane Nuclear Accident

Exercise carried out in 1997

Serious Coolant Leakage from HMS Trafalgar

There has been a serious leak of coolant fluid from a British nuclear submarine at a dockyard on the Devon - Cornwall border.

The Royal Navy has confirmed up to 280 litres of water, likely to have been contaminated with tritium, poured from a burst hose as it was being pumped from HMS Trafalgar. The submarine was alongside at Devonport, after undergoing routine maintenance.

Ministry of Defence spokespersons have played down the seriousness of the incident. However respected nuclear safety expert, John Large, whose consultancy Large and Associates are well versed on maritime nuclear safety issues said:

� The very fact that it was being transferred to a quayside effluent tank and then would have been put through an radioactive treatment process means it was not in a fit state to be directly discharged into the environment.

If the leak was going on unnoticed, then those workers could have walked into it, spread it and taken it into other non-radioactive and non-controlled areas. �

100 nuclear safety lapses at Faslane

left

Safety blunders at the nuclear bomb bases on the Clyde have rocketed to a record high, shutting down submarine reactors, spilling radioactivity and contaminating workers.

An internal Ministry of Defence (MoD) report has revealed that there were exactly 100 nuclear safety lapses at Faslane and Coulport, near Helensburgh, between June 2006 and May 2007. This was 40% higher than the previous year and nearly three times higher than in 2000-01.

Safety at the bases - home to the UK's Trident nuclear weapons system - has been condemned as "an absolute disgrace" by the Scottish National Party. The MoD, however, insisted that safety standards were improving.

The MoD's latest annual review of "nuclear safety events" at the bases included dropping a reactor control rod, breaching reactor containment and 32 power failures.

Two of the most serious incidents occurred on Trident submarines in September and December 2006. In both cases, radioactive cooling water spilled from a faulty hose pipe. On one occasion it contaminated a worker's shoe.

The second of the incidents was categorised as having had "high potential for actual radioactive release to the environment". The first, along with 19 other incidents, was defined as having had "actual or potential for a contained release within building or submarine".