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Nuclear Submarines: Decommissioning

Volume 477: debated on Friday 13 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average time taken for the decommissioning of nuclear submarines is. (209578)

The submarine decommissioning process is defined as starting when a vessel leaves service with the Royal Navy and concludes when the disposal process is complete, including both the transfer of radioactive waste into long-term storage at a National Waste Management Facility and the disposal of the hull.

No UK nuclear submarine has completed this process as all 14 ex-Royal Navy nuclear submarines are currently in afloat storage at either HM Naval Base Devonport or Rosyth Dockyard. It is not therefore possible to provide an average figure for the time taken for submarine decommissioning.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what safety checks are in place to monitor current submarines in decommission. (209579)

Submarines that are being decommissioned are subject to regular safety checks as laid down in their respective safety cases; these are controlled in accordance with the safety management arrangements of the sites at which they are stored. These arrangements are approved by the relevant nuclear regulators. Checks include a weekly watertight integrity check and radiological surveys conducted at a periodicity ranging from a month to a year.

Safety checks form part of a broader maintenance regime which includes yearly scheduled maintenance and docking every 10 to 15 years to allow a complete survey and re-preservation package to ensure further safe afloat storage until final disposal.