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Land storage sought for submarine reactors

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PLANS TO decommission Britain's obsolete nuclear submarines could mean old reactors being dumped at disused power stations or even on military land around the country, it has emerged this week.

The Minstry of Defence (MoD) wants to dispose of its old nuclear submarines on land rather than leave them afloat, and is asking industry for ideas.

'No sites have been selected for land storage and it will not be until industry comes forward with proposals, expected later this year, that potential sites will begin to emerge, ' a spokesman told NCE.

But Rosyth and Devonport, where the 11 subs are currently housed, have said they are not interested in storing the sub reactors on land.

A spokesman for Devonport operator DML told NCE that it would take on the dismantling submarines but not storage. 'We currently have no facility to store nuclear compartments on our own site and we have no plans to create one, ' he said.

Rosyth operator Babcock BES said its pilot plans to dismantle one of seven submarines it stores were rejected by the MoD last November. BES radiation protection adviser Nick Parish said the scheme was to dismantle part of the reactor, leaving a smaller 100t 'pressure vessel'.

'The reactors are around 750t and too big to store. We wanted to remove as much of the submarines as possible but the plans were turned down.'

A spokesman for the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate said that disposal could only take place at nuclear licensed sites. That could include Sellafield, or old power stations sites such as Berkeley, Dounreay, Bradwell or Hinckley point.

'They could also be stored on MoD land as they don't need a licence, ' he added.

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