The safety regime at the Rosyth naval dockyard, home to seven defunct nuclear submarines, has been called into question after an emergency exercise failed to demonstrate adequate arrangements for rescuing casualties from an accident. The UK government’s nuclear safety watchdog has ordered Babcock, the multinational company that runs the Fife dockyard for the Royal Navy, to rerun the exercise, codenamed Nightstar, in March because of mistakes made last September. An inspection by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) concluded that there were flaws in the way that staff looked after injured people during the exercise at the base known as ‘Scotland’s nuclear graveyard’. There were also communication and command problems in dealing with the imagined accident. The revelation has prompted “unease” about safety at the naval base, according to the local MP. Anti-nuclear campaigners have highlighted the serious risks of accidents, and demanded higher standards. The problems with the Nightstar exercise on September 30 2015 were disclosed in the ONR’s latest three-monthly report on Rosyth. Though inspectors thought that some of the exercise procedures were adequate, others were not. The MoD plans to dismantle the defunct nuclear subs at Rosyth, and then to transport the resulting 3,600 tonnes of radioactive waste to a disposal site yet to chosen. One option was an old nuclear site Chapelcross near Annan in Dumfries and Galloway. But this is opposed by the Scottish Government. A dock is being equipped to remove radioactive waste from the first “demonstrator” submarine, HMS Swiftsure. The aim is to start dismantling the boat in May.
Sun Herald 10th Jan 2016 read more »