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Concern voiced at 'chilling' nuclear incidents

MORE than 50 nuclear safety incidents have been logged every year at the Clyde naval base, in a report described as "chilling" by a Scots MP.

An internal Ministry of Defence report released under Freedom of Information legislation details more than 260 nuclear safety incidents at the Faslane nuclear submarine base and the Coulport nuclear bomb store in Argyll between August, 2008, and August, 2012.

The report does not describe any of the events, but MoD safety reports released for earlier years show that they can include radioactive contamination, small fires and failing to follow safety rules. Three-quarters of the incidents are blamed on human error.

The figures do not include incidents involving nuclear weapons, for which no numbers are given. The report does say, however, that there have been "false alarms and system failures" with an "environmental hazard detection system" for the warheads.

The report also makes a several references to other problems caused by shortages of staff and resources.

The Scottish National Party's defence spokesman, Angus Robertson MP, called the revelations "chilling", "shocking" and "simply unacceptable".

However, an MoD spokesman said: "It is entirely misleading to focus only on the number of reports. Our comprehensive reporting system purposely captures even the most minor of incidents, which never pose a threat to the public or our personnel, to ensure all lessons are learned."

But Mr Robertson said: "To have more than 50 nuclear safety events every year is simply unacceptable.

"Nuclear safety has to be paramount at Faslane - and it is clearly not. That should be a matter of deep concern for everyone."

The MoD report also revealed the explosives handling jetty at Coulport will become overloaded as a new fleet of seven Astute-class submarines arrive on the Clyde. But the MoD spokesman said: "A currently unused jetty within RNAD Coulport will be reinstated to handle the ammunition."

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