10 January 2005: For immediate release

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has today sent a list of recommendations to Les Neverton Head of Environmental Services at Plymouth City Council. The letter highlights a number of serious concerns CND has about safety issues involved in the ten year refit programme of Britain’s nuclear powered, nuclear armed submarines in Devonport Dockyards. The concerns CND has raised highlight serious safety concerns for the people of Plymouth and the recommendations are ones the Council must put to the Ministry of Defence.

These recommendations come at a crucial time. The first of four nuclear submarines has finished its refit and the second, HMS Victorious, will be sailing into Devonport Dockyards by the end of the month.

The first submarine to undergo a refit, Vanguard, was due for a two year refit which in fact overran by eight months, prompting MPs’ questions and media enquiries about the costly extension to the already financially crippling programme. The MOD had to admit that they were struggling with reactor problems on Vanguard that were causing many months’ delay. Looking at the Navy’s recent record with submarine disasters, this does not bode well for the future.

Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament said,

“We have serious concerns about the mounting series of problems the Navy is experiencing with the new submarine technology; these problems present grave safety concerns for the population of Plymouth. We are asking the council to address these concerns before allowing the next Submarine to arrive in Plymouth.

This refit programme is part of a bigger picture. The vast tragedy of the Tsunami has been a timely reminder that the government should be spending money on international aid to relieve suffering and not weapons to cause more. This is yet another example of the government putting its warmongering considerations first. Our government is committed under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to getting rid of its nuclear weapons. Instead, they are refitting the Trident nuclear weapons submarines: not only failing to comply with their Treaty obligations, but also bringing great dangers to the people of Plymouth and the crews of these submarines. The refit must be brought to an end and Trident scrapped.”


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Notes to editor:

1. Please contact Patrick van den Bulck, CND’s Campaigns Officer for more information and comment on 07968 420 858

2. Please contact Ruth Tanner, CND’s Press & Communications Officer on 07968 420859 for further information on CND and its campaigns.

3. Letter to Les Neverton head of environmental services at Plymouth City Council

4. Trident – Britain’s nuclear weapon system .


Issues of concerns for the residence of Plymouth:

Radioactive discharge

The people of Plymouth are extremely concerned about the effects of the radioactive discharge from the submarine being refitted
There is particular concern about Tritium. A radioactive element created in the core and coolant system of the submarines whilst on operational service.
Contamination of the marine environment

· Once docked at Devonport, tritium is discharged from the reactor into the River Tamar.
· Tritium contamination of the River Tamar and the surrounding marine environment is one of the most damaging results of the submarine refits.
Emergency planning issues

Local people are also concerned by the poor systems in place in the case of Nuclear Emergency.
Totally inadequate guidance, reminiscent of that given to the main characters in the cartoon novel ‘When the Wind Blows’, has been produced for residents.
History of protest in Plymouth

The Nuclear Free Coalition was formed in 2002 to campaign against the refit
CND are at the centre of this large local protest movement which included CANSAR, Friends of the Earth and local woman’s groups, anti war groups and local environmental campaigners and individuals all opposed to the refit taking place in their community.
The biggest demonstration in Plymouths history took place in October 2002.
Over 1000 people marched from Plymouth Hoe to the Devonport Docks.