The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats has demanded the Ministry of Defence (MoD) make a cast-iron commitment not to turn Rosyth Dockyard into a “nuclear submarine dump”.
Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Willie Rennie’s call comes after it emerged the dockyard will participate in the dismantling of seven nuclear submarines stored in the basin.
Mr Rennie said he is concerned the waste will be stored at the yard for decades after the submarines are dismantled because the UK Government has not established a new nuclear waste storage site.
He said: “With the nuclear submarines dumped at Rosyth for almost 30 years the MoD has developed its plans at a painfully slow pace.
“It is troubling that there is still no plan to store the nuclear waste in the longer term. We need to see a firm commitment from the MoD that Rosyth Dockyard won’t be used as a dumping ground for the waste after the submarines are dismantled.
“After years of government dithering the local community need to see action.
“Although the people of Rosyth and the wider area have lived with the economic benefit from the nuclear subs they shouldn’t be expected to tolerate the burden of a nuclear waste site on their doorstep.
“Rather than see the dockyard decline into a nuclear graveyard by stealth, local people want to maximise the economic potential of the yard. The MoD must pick up the pace and allow this to happen.
“I have written to the defence secretary to secure the commitment about the storage of the waste.”
MoD officials will test the removal of reactors in Rosyth but politicians and anti-nuclear campaigners have previously hit out at the plans.
A total of 27 submarines are to be dismantled at UK naval bases, with one at the Fife yard the first to be cut up.
The pilot will not go ahead until a storage facility for the waste is identified and further consultation is undertaken, expected to start next year.
The Courier understands the MoD will not allow dumping of any kind to take place without confirmation of a safe storage site.
Public consultations in the South West of England, Scotland and the Midlands involving more than 1,500 people and received more than 400 written pieces of correspondence, have taken place, and it is expected further consultations will be held as the process goes on.
SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson MP has previously said the MoD’s approach to nuclear safety in Scotland “leaves a lot to be desired”.
However, an MoD spokesman said: “Satisfying the stringent and independently-regulated safety standards for submarine dismantling takes time, but the MoD is committed to delivering a safe and secure solution that does not leave a problem for future generations.
“No radioactive waste will be removed from any submarines without a storage or disposal site being agreed.”