NUCLEAR SUBMARINE FORUM (NSubF)
30 Westwood Road, Southampton SO17 1DN, Britain
tel/fax: +44 (0)2380 554434 m: 07880 557035
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.nuclearinfo.org
Meeting on 8th February 2007
Present: Di McDonald, Jane Tallents, Max Wallis, Peter Lanyon.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has convened a long-promised meeting to establish an ISOLUS Advisory Group to inform the MOD process to find a solution for storing the radioactive waste from the reactors/reactor compartments of decommissioned submarines currently laid up in Devonport and Rosyth. Although CORWM is a separate process looking at interim storage, ISOLUS was put on hold until CORWM reported last July to co-ordinate the timing (of consultation/ announcements?). The MOD has not accepted volunteers for interim stores or the kind of openess that CoRWM intends. We take ‘Interim’ to mean up to 100 years and therefore possibly for ever.
The Nuclear Submarine Forum (NsubF)
NsubF was set up in October 2000, and in the first year it:
established a forum for information and support for 23 groups and individuals;
had a letter-writing campaign to MoD;
held a Seminar in Plymouth with the MoD;
agreed a Policy on Submarine Decommissioning;
was represented on the ISOLUS Steering Group.
Since then we have stayed in the consultation process and helped to shape it by being on the ISOLUS Steering Group. NsubF starts from the premise that the MOD had created the problem, and that out role is not to ease that problem but to ensure that the consultation process is not a whitewash and that the underlying issues are heard. At the news that a new ‘Astute’ class of nuclear submarines were to be built, we had to decide whether to stay in ISOLUS or walk out. We agreed to stay in, in order to know what is going on, but to reiterate our opposition to new build. The nuclear waste aspect of the proposed new build of nuclear submarines (SSBNs) to replace Trident has, as usual, not been given much publicity. [Please comment on the enclosed draft letter to the press.]
Nuclear Liability Equity
When looking for sites for ISOLUS waste, we considered if it would be more acceptable to communities if they were to lose some other, higher, nuclear risk in exchange. For Example, SCANS (Solent Coalition Against Nuclear Ships) agreed at its recent AGM to consider the MOD site at Marchwood as an acceptable store in exchange for the closure of Southampton Z Berth.
MOD ISOLUS Steering Group (MISG)
Following two public consultations in the past five years under the Steering Group set up by Lancaster University, the MOD has now established its own Steering Group on which Peter Lanyon serves for NsubF as a Consultant.
On 8th February, Peter, Jane and Di were invited to attend a Workshop convened by MOD at their Abbey Wood HQ near Bristol. It was explained that the MOD wish to set up an “Advisory Group” to help MISG conduct the next public consultation process to find the least worst option to get these hulks out of the water and stored safely until a permanent solution can be found.
The MISG has a programme for the next four years (attached). A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) will consider the options and should do a scoping exercise to decide the issues that need to be addressed. If NsubF is invited/agrees to be on the Advisory Group and is involved in scoping the SEA, the main OPTIONS will be:
1. What guidance documents they will rely on?
2. How will the SEA be evaluated?
3. Will the Advisory Group role include assessing the clarity and adequacy of the SEA against the Directive criteria?
4.Will the SEA include socio-economic and sustainability considerations,
5. Will the Advisory Group role include seeing if the SEA is adequate and specific rather than vague?
6. Will it study the practicality and (dis) advantages of some work for each of the options at Devonport / Rosyth or at the site of the final store? 7. Will the SEA be prepared to wait for the input of reports on the other problems and be a generic report?
The MISG accepts that when ISOLUS becomes site specific, Environmental Impact Assessment(s) will need to be done and a public inquiry held.
NsubF expects to be invited to be on the Advisory Group and we need to decide whether or not this is useful. The main issues will be:
1. Should we remain in support of the option to cut out and store the whole
section of the hull containing the reactor?
2. Should we accept industry’s solution to cup up the reactors and store the
waste in Nirex boxes?
3. Should we consider a 3rd option, to ‘cut down’ the reactor compartment and store the pressure vessel in a purpose sized container and the rest of the waste in Nirex boxes?
4. Should these options be mutually exclusive?
5. Should we be thinking what to do it we cannot accept 2 or 3?
6. In that case should we stay involved and hope to ameliorate things?
7. Should we wait for the SEA and then decide?
8. Should NsubF be represented on the Advisory Group?
9. If so, we consider we need funding for meetings and liaison expenses
Next Meeting of NsubF
An AGM and Ordinary meeting is to be held on the same day at the place where the person who finds it most difficult to travel is based, on
Tuesday 13th, Wed. 14th or Saturday 17th March. Please let Di know if you can to attend.
We still have funds to meet travel costs. Alternatively, please send your views to the list and we will add them into the discussion at the meeting.