A response to the current MOD set of proposals as to where radioactive waste from decommissioned nukiller powered submarines might be stored.

A response to the current MOD set of proposals as to where radioactive waste from decommissioned nukiller powered submarines might be stored.

The MOD is currently engaged in a public consultation about where to store the radioactive remains of twenty seven decommissioned nukiller powered submarines.

We welcome

We welcome that the MOD is to decommission twenty seven nuclear submarines.
However, that is just the start, as there are other nukiller powered
submarines in service.

We urge that all nukiller powered submarines be decommissioned.

More to come

There will eventually be seven new Astute-class nukiller powered submarines.
The first three have already been launched. The second three are currently under construction and due to go into service between 2018 and 2022. A seventh one is ordered, but is not yet under construction.

We urge that the entire Astute-class nukiller powered submarine programmer be scrapped.

The Proposed sites

The MOD has proposed that the waste from the twenty seven nukiller powered submarines be stored at a number of current nukiller facilities.
The original list of sites included Aldermaston, Burghfield, Capenhurst, Chapelcross, Devonport and Sellafield.

None of these sites are in any way suitable for this proposal.

Aldermaston and Burghfield

Aldermaston and Burghfield are where nukiller weapons are manufactured and maintained.
To store the radioactive submarine parts at these plants would only complicate the process of how we might decommission these plants.

We call for these plants to be closed down as part of the process of unilateral nukiller disarmament.


With regards to the proposed storage of radioactive parts from nukiller
powered submarines at Capenhurst, there is a major problem with this idea.
The Uranium enrichment process at Capenhurst involves the use of Uranium Hexafluoride.
The Uranium is transported in to the plant, processed, stored as depleted Uranium and transported back out as Uranium enriched in the form of a Uranium Hexafluoride.

Uranium Hexafluoride is highly toxic, reacts violently with water and is corrosive to most metals.

Thus any ‘accidental’ release of Uranium Hexafluoride at Capenhurst could impact upon any radioactive waste which might be stored at the plant.


Built in 1959 as a nukiller power reactor, its primary purpose was to produce weapons-grade plutonium. It has been under-going decommissioning since 2004. It therefore does not need more radioactive waste accumulating on site.

It should also be noted that the Scottish Assembly is currently debating whether to store any nukiller waste within Scotland.


The MOD has already ruled out Devonport.


Sellafield should not be considered for storage of radioactive waste from submarines. The site cannot deal with the inventory of waste it already holds.
Sellafield’s links with the MOD would be reinforced by the storage of waste from nuclear submarines, this would magnify the already prime threat of terrorism at the site.

Our current concerns

The MOD’s proposal refers to a site being built which will store the
radioactive submarine waste until 2040, when the UK’s Geological Disposal Facility is planned to come into operation.
At present the exact location of any Geological Disposal Facility is still very much in question.
So any future waste from decommissioned nukiller powered submarines could be added to the 27 which are currently under discussion.
Thus there is a need to question just how large the proposed storage site might become within the next 25 to 100 years.

What is needed

It is very clear to us that the process of decommissioning nukiller powered submarines should ensure that any radioactive waste is properly dealt with, but the present MOD proposals will only add to these problems.

Thus we need to be looking for the following: –

– A safe site which is isolated from large centres of population.
– A geologically stable area.
– A secure site.
– A place where no other nukiller processing is taking place.
– One at which no other radioactive waste is currently stored and/or

This statement is endorsed by Radiation Free Lakeland

MOD lists places where radioactive waste from decommissoned nukiller submarines might be stored.

The MOD has proposed a number of places where the radioactive waste parts from 27 nukiller submarines might be stored.

One of these sites is Capenhurst.

Here is a selection of local newspaper stories about this issue.

Capenhurst Nuclear Services shortlisted to store radioactive
parts from nuclear subs

Borough shortlisted for nuclear submarine work

MOD rules out nuclear submarine waste dump site at Devonport

Public consultation raises concerns about lorries in Burghfield
and Theale carrying radioactive submarine waste


Background Reports.

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities Briefing:-
Radioactive Scrap Metal.

Chatham an urban nuclear waste dump and a lasting legacy of the nuclear submarine programme

This is the official MOD information on this issue:-

Open consultation
Submarine Dismantling Project: site for the interim storage of Intermediate Level radioactive Waste

We are currently working to produce a CCC briefing upon this
issue. This will be completed within the next couple of weeks.