'Unsafe' nuclear fuel plant rejects calls for closure

A A A

THE SECRETARY of State for Defence, Geoffrey Hoon, has rejected calls for the closure of a secret nuclear fuel plant in Derby despite news that safety watchdogs had warned of serious problems.

THE SECRETARY of State for Defence, Geoffrey Hoon, has rejected calls for the closure of a secret nuclear fuel plant in Derby despite news that safety watchdogs had warned of serious problems.

The Rolls-Royce plant, a mile from the city centre, does not have an emergency plan although it handles material even more dangerous than the uranium that caused the nuclear accident in Tokaimura, Japan, last month.

The community knew that the plant made engines for Trident submarines but, because the work was classified, it did not know nuclear fuel was processed there. Details were revealed yesterday in a leaked document, which said that the factory undertakes the "manufacture of submarine fuel".

John Ahern, a local councillor, vowed to investigate reports of serious safety flaws at the factory. Mr Ahern, who is a member of the council's liaison committee with Rolls-Royce, said: "I am extremely concerned, but if there has been a breach in safety I will address the issue."

In March, a report by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate - part of the Health and Safety Executive - severely criticised the safety procedures at the plant. It reportedly questioned the communications between the local emergency services and the site, and wanted a more effective contamination-free zone to be available to the emergency services in the event of a radiation leak. A spokeswoman for the HSE said: "There was an emergency exercise in March, following which we asked for some improvements and a repeat of the exercise, which took place on Wednesday."

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) said the situation at the Rolls-Royce plant in Derby was "potentially worse" than Japan, "because of the type of materials being used". CND said Rolls-Royce was using up to 93 per cent highly enriched uranium compared with just 20 per cent being mixed at Tokaimura.

Dave Knight, chairman of CND, said: "Urgent answers are needed to some very serious questions. Why is there no emergency plan? Are there any containment procedures for a critical accident? This plant should be immediately closed down."

CND said that workers at the factory had expressed concerns about safety lapses. The workers said there was no facility for containing radiation if a serious accident occurred and there was no off-site emergency plan to deal with a nuclear accident.

A spokesman for Rolls-Royce said: "We have now clarified the position, changed our procedures and practised them three times."

Mr Hoon, a Derbyshire MP, said: "Those concerns have been addressed by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate and they've given the plant an entirely clean bill of health."

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "The plant at Derby is operated by Rolls-Royce, who take fuel delivered by the Ministry of Defence, where it is then treated to produce fuel suitable for use in nuclear submarine reactors.

"This plant, which was commissioned in 1994-1995, is a civilian plant and is subject to full civil regulations."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Technical Manager – Heat Pumps

£40000 Per Annum dependent on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: They ...

Test Job

TBC: Test Recruiter for iJobs: Job London (Greater)

Senior Developer - HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, VBA, SQL

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are working with one o...

Senior Developer - HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, VBA, SQL

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are working with one o...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis