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Old Rusty UK Nuclear Sub Consultation 2011 UK-MOD OGL
The UK Ministry of Defense (MOD) wants a “remote” location to store at least 27 nuclear reactor pressure vessels (RPVs) from nuclear submarines, pending a permanent repository, which most likely will never be built. Deadline for comment is February 20th.

Thus, it is temporary, which risks becoming permanent. The worst part would appear to be the actual dismantlement at Rosyth, near Edinburgh and Dunfermline, Scotland, where radioactive waste will be legally emitted into the air and water.

So, why did MOD insist, in 2012, that the site should be remote and why, as well, do they insist on the dangers of the nuclear reactor pressure vessels (RPV), if they are dropped or damaged?

Does it have to do with metal hydroxide formation, especially in a corrosive sea environment? Do they fear flammable hydrogen gas formation and possible explosions?
Aluminum hydroxide film radiolysis, Damaged SNF, DOE, Carlsen et. al. 2005

Among those remote (from London) short-listed sites is the former Chapelcross nuclear power station, which is currently undergoing decommissioning. As such, putting the nuclear waste there appears particularly unfair to those who have set up food or tourism related businesses, in good faith, with the understanding that Chapelcross is being decommissioned:
From the Chapelcross perspective, the image of a nuclear dump will blight the area and damage other industries, in particular food and drink, which demands a pristine environment.South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine http://www.snpdumfries.org/nuclear-dumping-at-chapelcross/2015-01

There are currently around 250,000 people who would be in an 18 mile (30 km) theoretical evacuation zone for Chapelcross. These include Dumfries in Scotland and Carlisle in Cumbria, England, as can be seen on the map. It is not remote for them. 12,700 people lived within 3 miles of Chapelcross and 28,900 lived within 10 miles, in 1981 [1]. We don’t have a more recent number for 3 and 10 miles, which are more difficult to estimate. These important figures and clear maps of evacuation zones are conspicuously absent from all of the Chapelcross documents, which we have examined.
Chapelcross and environs 18 miles
This area is also near a faultline(s) and subject to earthquakes, as exemplified by the 1979 Longtown earthquake. While UK earthquakes are small by international standards, they tend to be shallow and widely felt.[2] Conventional natural gas has been drilled in the area and it has been under investigation for non-conventional oil and gas.[3] This could lead to a dangerous situation.

MOD insists on the need of a remote site; the dangers of the RPVs and the risks of dropping them (see below). Why are they worried about dropping them? Because they are fragile-corroded-rusty due to age and salt damage? And, because of the long-lived nature of the neutron activated radioactive metals such as nickel 59, with half life of 75,000 years and niobium 94 with a half-life of 20,300 years and Cesium 137, half-life 30 years? When a 5 year half-life is alleged for the reactor pressure vessels, they are speaking of Cobalt 60 and not the others. The nuclear submarines were run on highly enriched uranium (HEU)[4] They also insist on the importance of passive safety, all while saying that it is difficult to assure passive safety. Are they fearful of the formation of flammable or explosive gas?
Neutron activation reactor pressure vessels: U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Aging Nuclear Power Plants: Managing Plant Life and Decommissioning, OTA-E-575 (Wash, DC: U.S. GPO, Sept 1993)
U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Aging Nuclear Power Plants: Managing Plant Life and Decommissioning, OTA-E-575 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, September 1993)“. http://ota.fas.org/reports/9305.pdf

Why should Scotland want the nuclear waste, if London does not? MOD has bunkers in London, which could be perfect for nuclear waste. Furthermore, up until recently there were oil refineries in greater London. The last one to close was only 28 miles (45 km) from London City Centre and had a major fire 7 years ago: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coryton_Refinery This suggests that they believe that the nuclear reactor pressure vessels are really dangerous. It also raises the question of why the nuclear submarines, new and old, are not kept, repaired, and dismantled in the Port of London area.

Remote is not good for it may not be properly monitored. The reactor pressure vessels risk serious corrosion and crumbling and must be well monitored. There could also be flammable gas formation-explosions. As the nuclear submarine reactor pressure vessels are military waste, a military site, such as Aldermaston, or another military site seems more appropriate. The closer into parliament, the better, so there won’t be any cost-cutting.

Note the intent to undertake “size reduction”, which will result in air and water emissions of radionuclides.

Category (for info) Option Description
2-4B RPV removal at Devonport and Rosyth, with interim storage at one of the following: a remote MOD or commercial site, Devonport or Rosyth, and at a later date size reduction of ILW before transfer to the proposed GDF”
“Provided the passive safety requirements for RCs and RPVs have been met, these options should also carry minimal risk, albeit at a risk level slightly higher than that for packaged waste. It is noted that making RCs passively safe could be challenging.
A Storage · Unplanned release is linked to passive safety of the packages. · Packaged Waste – minimal risk of unplanned radiological exposure from packaged waste. The approved storage containers are specifically designed for long term interim storage and final disposal. The design ensures the integrity of the structure is retained and the unplanned radiological exposure during storage should be very small. · RC and RPV storage – provided the passive safety requirements are met the risk of unplanned radiological release during storage should be minimal, although at a slightly higher risk than for packaged waste.

B Accident · An unplanned radiological release could occur if an accident happens e.g. whilst positioning the packages, RC’s or RPV’s in the interim store. · The containers could be dropped when being lifted by cranes or by forklift. · Damage to the containers could occur if the forks damage the package or containers.” “SUBMARINE DISMANTLING PROJECT, 2012 COEIA MCDA Data Report © Crown Copyright (2012), Issue 6.0 – January 2013, This document has been released as background information to support MOD’s response to the Submarine Dismantling Consultation. It has been redacted in order to protect: • personal information; and • information that could compromise UK Defence or National Security.https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/229361/20130215-2012_SDP_MCDA_Data_Report_Iss_6_0_REDACTED-U.pdf (OGL, Emphasis added)

Additional information:

Two videos from the earlier consultation. Devonport managed to get off of the list of interim storage sites, though they seem to be back as a dismantlement site, with Rosyth in Scotland. http://youtu.be/nJzKJIE3-_U http://youtu.be/PnIQUMwsIvs

Where to comment is found here: http://www.snpdumfries.org/nuclear-dumping-at-chapelcross/2015-01

Submarine Dismantling Project (SDP)
Consultation document web site: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/submarine-dismantling-project-site-for-the-interim-storage-of-intermediate-level-radioactive-waste

Consultation Document on the Site for Interim Storage of Intermediate Level Radioactive Waste 14th November 2014https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/374827/PSE2_Consultation_Document_20141106_as_printed.pdf

[1] Reference re population in 1981:
Nuclear Disasters & the Built Environment: A Report to the Royal Institute of British Architects“, Philip Steadman and Simon Hodgkinson, 1990, ISBN: 978-0-408-50061-6

[2] Sometimes Longtown is shown as the epicentre, sometimes outside of Longtown. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_earthquakes_in_the_British_Isles Faultlines shown here: http://www.keele.ac.uk/media/keeleuniversity/group/basindynamics/postgrads/austin/Project%20Overview.pdf

[3] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/367287/Shalegas_uk.pdf

[4] About HEU in UK nuclear subs: http://fissilematerials.org/library/mod06.pdf

Submarine image from earlier, 2011, consultation document: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/35909/sdp_consultation.pdf (OGL)

Aluminum cladding image and text from INL-USDOE: “INL/EXT-05-00760, Damaged Spent Nuclear Fuel at U.S. DOE Facilities, Experience and Lessons Learned, by Brett Carlsen Denzel Fillmore Roger McCormack Robert Sindelar Timothy Spieker Eric Woolstenhulme, November 2005 http://www.inl.gov/technicalpublications/documents/3396549.pdf