More than 500 ‘nuclear safety events’ at Trident base since 2006

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More than 500 ‘nuclear safety events’ at Trident base since 2006

Since 2006 there have been more than 500 safety events recorded at Faslane, the home of the UK’s nuclear deterrent, the MoD has revealed.

The figure was disclosed by defence minister Stuart Andrew in response to a parliamentary question from Deidre Brock, an SNP MP from Edinburgh.

Last year, Downing Street was accused of covering-up a malfunction in the Trident nuclear deterrent just weeks before a crucial House of Commons vote.

In total 505 “events” were recorded at HM Naval Base Clyde at Faslane, where most of the UK’s nuclear submarine fleet is based, over the past 12 years.

Mr Andrew’s letter explains: “These events may be near-misses, equipment failures, human error or procedural failings.

“They are raised, however minor they may appear, to encourage a comprehensive, robust reporting culture, undertake learning from experience and to take early corrective action.”

Two of the incidents listed were recorded with the most serious classification, Category A, and occurred in 2006 and 2007.

According to the letter, Category A events have “actual or high potential for radioactive release to the environment of quantities in excess of IRR99 notification limits”.

The defence minister clarified that in “neither event was any radiological contamination evident” and added: “None of the events caused harm to the health of any member of staff on the naval base, or to any member of the public.”

Mr Andrew stressed that the MoD takes all incidents, no matter how minor, “extremely seriously” and said that they are investigated with appropriate measures put in place.

FASLANE, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 23: A trident submarine makes it's way out from Faslane Naval base on September 23, 2009 in Faslane, Scotland. British prime minister Gordon Brown, will tell the UN the he will cut the trident missile carrying submarine from four to three. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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Faslane naval base is where the UK’s nuclear deterrent is based

However, the figures reveal an increase in recorded incidents in recent years – with 80 being noted in 2016, and 73 in 2017.

Kate Hudson, general secretary for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), said: “When the MoD took the decision to censor annual nuclear safety reports which had previously been made public, we feared that safety at Faslane was worsening.

“While we welcome a return to a degree of transparency, the figures in the defence minister’s letter confirms our fears, revealing a catalogue of accidents in the last three years.

“Many of these incidents involved the Trident submarines which carry Britain’s nuclear weapons.

“The incidents add to the dire warnings in September’s public accounts committee report which revealed serious infrastructure problems, including huge delays and overspending.”

SNP MP Deirdre Brock
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Ms Brock said the incidents raised questions about Faslane

The SNP MP, Ms Brock, said: “Discovering that there is a succession of safety failures, more than one a week in recent years, really brings home how dangerous Faslane is.

“We’ve got the world’s most dangerous weapons but they seem to be under the control of the Keystone Cops.

“One bad mistake at Faslane could be the end of all of us and it’s way past time that those weapons were removed from Scotland.”

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