The Ministry of Defence has been criticised in a new report by the National Audit Office for its ‘dismal’ failure to clean up 20 out-of-service nuclear submarines. The NAO’s latest report found that the UK has not disposed of any nuclear-powered submarines since the 1980s, leaving 9 subs berthed in populous areas with ageing nuclear fuel still inside. The process of defueling these submarines is not scheduled to take place until 2023. (See CND’s response to the report)

Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, raised the issue of the submarines with the Prime Minister in Prime Ministers Question time today asking:

“Back in June last year, I asked the Prime Minister to help fund the recycling of the 20 old nuclear submarines tied up and rotting in Devonport and Rosyth. Today’s National Audit Office report shows that the Ministry of Defence has no funded plan to do this work, and no submarines have been dismantled since 1980—that is the year I was born. Will the Prime Minister now extend the civil nuclear clean-up to make sure that it includes all the Royal Navy submarines, so that we can deal with this issue, and make that part of her legacy in office?”

The Prime Minister responded “We remain committed to the safe, secure and cost-effective defuelling and dismantling of our nuclear submarines as soon as is practically possible. The MOD continues to act as a responsible nuclear operator by maintaining its decommissioned nuclear submarines to meet the necessary safety and security standards. I think its commitment is illustrated by the recent success in the initial dismantling of the submarine Swiftsure, which has been followed immediately by the initial dismantling of Resolution. The MOD will continue to work with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to achieve steady-state disposal of our laid-up submarines as soon as possible. We are working on this. The Labour Government had 13 years as well, and what work did they do during those 13 years on this decommissioning issue?”