The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has granted consent for a project to decommission seven out-of-service nuclear submarines currently stored afloat at Rosyth Royal Naval Dockyard in Fife.
Rosyth Royal Dockyard Ltd (RRDL), a subsidiary of the Babcock International group, has been given permission to dismantle the submarines following a three month consultation earlier this year over an environmental statement prepared by the company to assess impacts resulting from submarine decommissioning.
The Nuclear Reactors (Environmental Impact Assessment for Decommissioning) Regulations 1999 (EIADR) give ONR the authority to grant consent to projects to decommission nuclear power stations and nuclear reactors. Following consultation, ONR has concluded that information provided in the environmental statement was adequate and that that environmental benefits would far outweigh the detriments from the project, which can be adequately covered by the relevant regulatory regimes.
The regulator has granted consent for decommissioning work to go ahead under the condition that there is clear demonstration of a suitable off site location for storing intermediate level waste before the radioactive waste is removed from the submarines. The Ministry of Defence is currently consulting on potential locations for storage of such waste.
A number of further conditions have been attached to the consent in order to ensure that measures are put in place to control environmental impacts. The conditions require RRDL to prepare and implement an environmental management plan that identifies mitigation measures and describes how they will be implemented and modified in the light of experience.
ONR will continue to have regulatory oversight throughout the lifetime of the project, interacting with other regulators where necessary, and RRDL are required to notify ONR in advance of any significant changes to mitigation measures.