The nuclear bomb and submarine bases at Faslane and Coulport near Helensburgh are seeking permission to increase the amount of radioactive waste they discharge into the Clyde and the air, the Sunday Herald can reveal.
But the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) is coming under mounting pressure to delay giving the go-ahead to the increases until it has been given the tough new statutory powers promised by the Scottish government last week.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has submitted plans for the Faslane naval dockyard to pour more liquid waste into the Gareloch as the number of UK nuclear submarines based there rises from five to 14 by 2019. The waste comes from the submarines’ reactors and includes radioactive cobalt-60 and tritium.
The MoD also wants to keep emitting tritium gas to the atmosphere from the nuclear weapons stored at Coulport on Loch Long. Annual emissions of tritium have doubled between 2008 and 2012, and are expected to rise with the introduction of upgraded warhead designs.
Proposals to shift some submarine work to Coulport will also mean radioactive waste being transported by road between the two bases. The amount of solid waste to be treated and disposed of at Drigg near Sellafield in Cumbria is also due to increase.