The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has shortlisted five possible locations to store nuclear waste from submarines.
The five facilities already hold radioactive materials and are either owned by the MoD, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority or industry.
The sites will be used as an interim storage site for reactor components from submarines that have left naval service until after 2040, when the UK’s geological disposal facility is planned to come into operation.
Defence minister, Philip Dunne, said: “This is another step towards a safe and sustainable solution for the disposal of radioactive waste from our submarine fleet. All of the potential sites have a proven track record in handling radioactive material in a safe and secure way.
“We are committed to an open and transparent process and over the next year we will be working closely with local communities near to the potential sites as part of the consultation before a final decision is made.”
Philip Dunne, defence minister – “This is another step towards a safe and sustainable solution for the disposal of radioactive waste from our submarine fleet. All of the potential sites have a proven track record in handling radioactive material in a safe and secure way”
The five potential storage sites are: Atomic Weapons Establishment sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire, Sellafield in west Cumbria, Chapelcross in Dumfriesshire and Capenhurst in Cheshire.
Currently 18 former Royal Navy nuclear submarines are stored afloat in Devonport and Rosyth, but the vessels can only be completely dismantled once the reactor components – which are categorised as radioactive waste – have been safely removed.
Nine submarines, which are still in operation will also be dismantled under Royal Navy’s submarine dismantling project, when they reach the end of their service lives.
A public consultation on the possible sites will take place in late 2014 and no decisions will be made until this process is completed.