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3rd February 2002, marchers at the Devenport Dockyards as the first
Trident submarines come there for refitting. Pic: Simon Chapman.
Dockyard gets go ahead to turn south west city into nuclear
by Roy Norris
AFTER AN eight-month "investigation", on the 6th November
2001 the Environment Agency announced that the Plymouth Devonport
dockyard's owners - DML - can increase the amount of radioactive
tritium it discharges into the nearby River Tamar by nearly 700
per cent. All this in a city of 270,000 people.
On top of that the dockyard is about to begin a programme of refitting
Vanguard-class nuclear submarines, a process which will see radiation
leaking into the river and the atmosphere for at least the next
ten years. Already four scrapped nuclear submarines are stored afloat
there - three of which have already had their spent fuel removed
leaving the highly contaminated reactors intact and radioactive
waste remaining on board. The Navy has also confirmed that all subsequent
submarines could be decommissioned there; which will see 20 scrapped
nuclear submarines lolling about in the area. Each one carries -
not counting the spent fuel - around 160 tonnes of radioactive waste.
This will effectively make Plymouth the MoD's national radioactive
Recently declassified reports from the Nuclear Powered Warships
Safety Committee written in 1965 state: "...the Committee could
not recommend Devonport as an acceptable site for a refitting yard
for nuclear submarines" because of its proximity to peoples'
homes. More recently independent nuclear consultant, John Large,
has said he sees 'no substantive change' in safety arrangements
at the dockyard since 1965. And in fact there's a new variable -
sure to put people at ease: the dock facility was sold into private
hands in March 1997 to the only bidder, DML (Devonport Management
Limited) at a bargain price.
The largest shareholder in DML is a US company - Brown and Root
- who achieved notoriety in the early 1990's when it became subject
to the largest lawsuit in US history after it was discovered that
the concrete reactor casing in a nuclear power plant in Texas it
was involved in constructing was full of air-holes. Brown and Root
is owned by American multi-national Halliburton whose Chief Executive
is Dick Cheney, US vice President.
Plymouth Dump Information Group, tel. O1752 337 482. www.members.aol.com/pdig