From British daily The Morning Star:
MoD scandal fuels Trident rows
Monday 27 April 2009
by Paddy McGuffin
The Ministry of Defence faces accusations of attempting to cover up repeated radioactive leaks at Faslane nuclear submarine base in Scotland.
Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, obtained by Channel Four News on Monday, contain damning evidence of safety breaches and management failures at the highly contentious Trident base near Glasgow.
The worst breaches include three leaks of radioactive coolant from nuclear submarines in 2004, 2007 and 2008 into the Firth of Clyde.
Last year, a radioactive waste plant manager was replaced when it emerged that he had no qualifications in radioactive waste management.
MPs and campaigners condemned last night the MoD for its perceived cover-up and also renewed pressure on the government to scrap its Trident Replacement scheme.
CND chairwoman Kate Hudson said: “This situation is a complete disgrace. As we have now discovered, the nuclear leaks at the base have been covered up for years and have only been disclosed thanks to a media FoI request.
“If this had been at a nuclear power station, there would have been a full public inquiry but, as it is the MoD, it has been passed over.
“This is a serious security and health and safety risk and it should have been made public immediately.
“It further adds to the argument that the UK should not be pursuing a new generation of nuclear weapons.”
Scottish National Party Westminster leader and defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP said: “This utterly damning disclosure reveals repeated and serious nuclear safety breaches and the MoD cannot be above the law.
“We are not talking about a one-off incident but a whole catalogue of serious and frankly shocking failures.
“It is not good enough to say the MoD is exempt from radioactive safety regulations and ministers must be held to account.
“We need an immediate and top-level investigation into this scandal.”
Labour MP and member of the parliamentary CND group Ann Cryer said: “I shall be writing to the Secretary of State for Defence to express my deep concern on this matter.
“The MoD is saying the contamination was negligible. Well John Hutton needs to ask himself, would he feel like going swimming in those waters?
“The MoD seem to be in a protected position from any form of repercussions,” said Ms Cryer.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency stated that it does not have formal regulatory powers regarding radioactive material in, or radioactive releases from MoD premises.
A spokesperson said: “It is not possible to make a direct comparison between a civilian and a military site because the MoD has an exemption from the 1993 Radioactive Substances Act.
“At a civilian installation, we could be considering suspending certain activities until improvements have been made in the essential equipment, operating procedures and training to prevent a recurrence of an unauthorised release.”
THE Tory Party on Friday night denied that there was a rift in the party over whether or not to scrap the Trident missile system if and when they come into power: here.
THE public will have to fork out an extra £100 million to replace US-made missiles for the government’s Trident nuclear weapons system because they were “the wrong size,” it was revealed on Sunday: here.
Around 1,000 servicemen who blame their ill-health on involvement in Britain’s 1950s nuclear tests have won their High Court bid for the right to sue the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for compensation: here.