The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has identified five nuclear facilities across the UK as potential sites to store waste from disused nuclear-powered submarines.
The five sites, which already hold radioactive materials, have been selected as potential locations to store the Royal Navy’s decommissioned submarines’ reactor components until 2040, when the UK’s geological disposal facility is scheduled to be commissioned.
Either owned by MoD, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) or industry, the sites have been named as part of MoD’s submarine dismantling project (SDP) and are currently placed on an interim shortlist.
The potential sites include the Atomic Weapons Establishment sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire, which are owned by MoD and operated by AWE; NDA-owned Sellafield site in west Cumbria; Chapelcross in Dumfriesshire, owned by NDA, as well as Capenhurst in Cheshire, which is run by Capenhurst Nuclear Services.
UK Defence Equipment Support and Technology Minister Philip Dunne said: "This is another step towards a safe and sustainable solution for the disposal of radioactive waste from our submarine fleet.
"We are committed to an open and transparent process and over the next year we will be working closely with local communities near to the potential sites as part of the consultation before a final decision is made."
Currently, Royal Navy’s 18 former nuclear submarines are stored afloat in Devonport and Rosyth.
Upon the removal of reactor components, which are categorised as radioactive waste, the 18 submarines will be completely dismantled while the initial dismantling process will provide up to 60 jobs.
Meanwhile, a public consultation will be held in late 2014 on the possible sites and no decisions will be made until the process is concluded.
Image: Royal Navy’s HMS Victorious submarine at sea. Photo: copyright Leading Airman (Photographer) Will Haigh.