Exclusive, 22 April 2015
The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has served the base with a legal enforcement notice to remedy flaws in the arrangements for protecting workers from radiation. It has also disclosed five incidents in which safety rules were broken between October and December last year, and described the procedures for reporting incidents as "significantly below standard".
Devonport is the largest naval base in Western Europe, and services Britain’s nuclear submarine fleet. One of the submarines usually armed with Trident nuclear missiles, HMS Vengeance, is currently being refitted there, with another, HMS Vanguard, due in next for maintenance.
Because of concerns over health and safety, the base has been given “an enhanced level of regulatory attention” by ONR since 2013. An incident last year in which a worker was contaminated with radioactivity prompted ONR to issue a statutory improvement notice in December.
Though the radiation dose the worker received was small, ONR said it “highlighted shortfalls in the health and safety arrangements for working with ionising radiations at Devonport Royal Dockyard”. The dockyard has been ordered “to bring the arrangements up to an acceptable standard” before the end of January 2016.