from Sunday Herald, 30 January 2011
Rules meant to prevent accidents and radioactive leaks at the nuclear bomb bases on the Clyde have been suspended seven times in the last two years, prompting fears that workers and the public have been put in danger.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has admitted that normal safety standards have been relaxed on a total of 18 occasions since 2000 at the Faslane submarine base on Gareloch and at the Coulport weapons store on Loch Long. This was “for operational reasons”, the MoD said.
The Clyde bases have also been criticised by government safety inspectors for failing to improve their arrangements for maintaining vital equipment. These latest revelations come on top of a string of problems with submarine accidents, radioactive leaks and ageing facilities at the bases.
Faslane is home port for the four Vanguard-class submarines that carry Trident nuclear-tipped missiles at sea, as well as other nuclear-powered submarines. The Royal Naval Armaments Depot at nearby Coulport stores and maintains up to 200 Trident warheads.
Safety rules are changed when there’s a need to “provide temporary suspension of associated conditions and limits of safe operations, or the authorised scope of operations”, according to the MoD. But this was “rare”, it insisted.