Leaking nuclear submarine provokes anger in colony

Residents of Gibraltar are preparing to take legal action over a British nuclear submarine stranded in their port, which has leaked radioactive material.


HMS Tireless has been docked in the port since May when the submarine made an emergency stop after the leak was discovered. Since then the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has hesitated to carry out repairs and maintained that it is in the interests of safety to repair the submarine Gibraltar.

“There has been a very open meeting with the (Gibraltese) government and governor. The current situation is that no repair work will be started until the safety case has been approved by independent internal nuclear regulatory bodies”, an MoD spokesperson told edie on 10 August. She contradicted the belief of locals and Greenpeace that the submarine posed any danger to the public or the environment. “It had a minor defect which resulted in a leak of very low radiation water into the reactor compartment,” she said.

“For the moment the submarine is staying there and no repair work will be done until the safety case has been passed. We can’t anticipate when this will be”, the spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, it was announced that a law firm in Gibraltar was preparing a legal case against the MoD. Local residents are furious that their concerns about nuclear safety and wish to return the vessel to the UK appear to have been ignored. A recent survey by Gibraltese television revealed that 79% of respondents wanted the submarine to be sent back to the UK for repairs.

“The Government of Gibraltar is making no comment at present, but we have said that we require the fully informed assessment and advice of an independent expert authority and that the public’s safety must be regarded,” Gibraltar’s Government Press Secretary, Francis Cantos, told edie on 10 August. The Government has also informed the MoD that the Gibraltar Government cannot form a view on the matter based only on the information and assurances given by the MoD itself.

Greenpeace has appealed to the British Government to abandon its plans to carry out the repairs in Gibraltar saying there are health, environmental and economic dangers caused by the radiation risk, which it believes is greater than the MoD says it is.

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