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HMS Vigilant in Muiti-Million Refit

 

NUCLEAR submarine HMS Vigilant has arrived at Devonport Dockyard  for a major refit. The dockyard is due to start work on a major contract worth an estimated £270million after the Vanguard Class submarine came into port on Saturday.

Vigilant will be the third of the giant Vanguards, which provide Britain's nuclear deterrent, to be refitted and refuelled by Babcock Marine. 

Babcock would not comment on the value of the contract but the project is expected to involve about 1,500 workers over its duration.

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A spokesman for the Royal Navy said he couldn't provide an exact figure for the cost as the package of work for each submarine is negotiated separately. However, the cost of the refit for HMS Victorious was in the region of £270 million.

Devonport is the only facility in Britain capable of handling refuelling work of this kind, and the fourth Vanguard, HMS Vengeance, is expected to undergo the same treatment once work on Vigilant is completed.

The four Vanguard Class ballistic nuclear submarine provides the United Kingdom's strategic nuclear deterrent. They are armed with Trident II D5 missiles, which can carry up to 12 nuclear warheads and have a range of 4,000 nautical miles, as well as the two-ton Spearfish Torpedo.

A new pressurised water reactor, the PWR 2, was designed for the Vanguard class. This has double the service life of previous models, and it was originally thought that a the submarines would carry out their entire service life without the need for expensive refuelling. However, the life of the fuel in the reactor installed at build was less than the life of the submarine, as technology at the time (the early to mid 1990s) did not allow fuel to be produced that would last as long as the submarine.

Sellafield in Danger of Undermining Regulatory Standards

 

SELLAFIELD�S long-term future hinges on a vital piece of kit which will cost hundreds of millions of pounds � double the original estimate.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority will now have to go cap in hand to the Government to ask for the money. The massive piece of equipment, known as Evaporator D, is crucial to future reprocessing, reducing the risks from high hazard radioactive wastes � and safeguarding jobs.

The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, which issues Sellafield�s licence to operate, said �Further evaporator capacity at Sellafield is essential for the longer term safe management of highly active liquor.�

UK's "Knackered" Nuclear Power Stations

Britain now has 10 operating nuclear power stations, stretching from Torness on the Firth of Forth to Dungeness on the south Kent coast. Each has two reactors, and Ministers boast that they supply about one-fifth of the power that keeps the lights on.

The reality, as an Independent on Sunday investigation shows is very different. The majority of the power stations are in dire trouble, and their failure is leading to the most acute concern in years that the country may run short of electricity this winter.

Two of the 10 have been idle for almost a year, with both reactors out of action due to corrosion. Another two have had one of their reactors closed down for months. And yet another two are having to run both their reactors at less than three-quarters of their normal power for safety reasons.

And even that is not the end of it. Of the four that are still in good working condition, one is due to shut down permanently in two years' time, a second is partially closed for routine maintenance, and a third is facing safety questions following the discovery of flaws in similar reactors in Japan.

The Wartime Broadcasting Service

"This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons." In the normally prosaic world of public safety announcements, they were probably the two most chilling sentences ever recorded in readiness for release across Britain's airwaves.

 

But secret documents reveal for the first time the full text of the warning to be broadcast by the BBC in the event of a nuclear war, show that Whitehall was obsessed as much with the voice that would be used to announce Armageddon as it was with protecting what was left of the British population.

Senior civil servants in charge of drawing up the pre-recorded radio announcement became concerned that only a recognisable broadcaster should be used for fear that an unfamiliar voice would create the impression that Auntie had been "obliterated".

The quandary was deepened when it emerged that the only BBC employee to have been given the appropriate security clearance for the project was a relatively unknown retired newsreader called Hugh Searight. None of the BBC's star broadcasters � Angela Rippon, Michael Parkinson, Frank Bough or Richard Baker � were judged to have been checked to the required level. The apocalyptic tussle between the Beeb and three Whitehall departments in 1973 and 1974 is detailed in documents released at the National Archives in Kew, west London.

Financial Crisis Will Hit Nuclear Power

Growth in the construction of new nuclear plants worldwide is at risk because of the global financial crisis, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman has said. During a visit to Paris, Bodman said the crisis could have an impact on the "nuclear renaissance" that is sweeping the industry as countries around the globe search for alternatives to fossil fuels.

Long-term projects like nuclear plant building "are the ones that are going to be the most difficult to finance," he told reporters. While Bodman said he is hopeful the financial crisis will be resolved, "long term projects are at risk, I would think."

While long-term nuclear projects are at risk, short-term projects such as oil drilling shouldn't be affected, Bodman said, because the industry is less reliant on bank borrowing.

100 nuclear safety lapses at Faslane

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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".

Joint Ministerial Statement on Test Ban Treaty

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1. We, the Foreign Ministers who have issued this statement, reaffirm our strong support for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which would rid the world of nuclear weapons test explosions and would contribute to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

 

2. In this year marking the 12th anniversary of the Treaty's opening for signature, we emphasize that the CTBT is a major instrument in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The Treaty was an integral part of the 1995 agreements by the States parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) allowing the indefinite extension of the Treaty. The early entry into force of the CTBT was recognized at the 2000 Review Conference of the NPT as a practical step to achieving NPT nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation objectives, and has also been reaffirmed as being of central importance by the UN General Assembly.

 

3. We recall the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear -Test-Ban Treaty, that adopted in September 2007 a declaration by consensus outlining measures consistent with international law to encourage further signature and ratification of the Treaty.

Israeli Nuclear Weapons Plant Revealed

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The Sunday Times revealed on 5 October 1986 that an Israeli factory beneath the Negev desert is manufacturing thermo-nuclear weapons for atomic bombs -

Hidden beneath the Negev desert, the factory has been producing atomic warheads for the past 20 years. Now it has almost certainly begun manufacturing thermo-nuclear weapons, with yields big enough to destroy entire cities, the Report says.

Information about Israel's capacity to manufacture the bomb comes from the testimony of a former Dimona employee, nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu.

Vanunu's testimony and pictures, confirm that Israel has the world's sixth-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, including hundreds of nuclear warheads.

Israel has possessed its secret weapons factory for more than two decades, and its nuclear facility is equipped with French plutonium extracting technology, which transformed Dimona from a research establishment to a bomb production facility.

Nuclear States Pay Lip Service to Disarmament

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Britain and the rest of the world's nuclear powers are paying "lip service" to the principle of disarmament without putting any efforts into achieving it. Nuclear-armed states do not have a single official whose sole job is devoted to the issue of verifying the decommission of nuclear weapons, a Report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said.

It calls for a "high-level unofficial panel" made up of civilian experts and officials to come up with solutions to the "myriad challenges" of disarmament.

The report, Abolishing Nuclear Weapons, says: "Representatives of nuclear-weapons states pay lip service to the principle of nuclear disarmament, but none of these states has an employee, let alone an inter-agency group, tasked full-time with figuring out what would be required to verifiably decommission all its nuclear weapons."

Its authors argue for disarmament to be successful, states must have a "shared perception" of the challenges.

Give Holyrood power to ban Trident

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The Commission on Scottish Devolution, chaired by Sir Kenneth Calman, is under pressure
to consider giving the Scottish Parliament the power to prohibit Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Although Holyrood has voted against the UK Government's plans to replace Trident it's
powers are limited.
A change to one line in the Scotland Act may be all that would be needed to allow the 
Scottish Parliament to prohibit the deployment of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Scotland.
This issue was raised in a number of written submissions to the Calman Commission and the
proposal has also been supported by Lord Murray, a former Lord Advocate.