WORKERS at the Faslane nuclear submarine base were exposed to radiation, the Ministry of Defence(MoD) has revealed.
The MoD released information which revealed that there were six significant safety incidents in the last five years at Faslane.
Some of the incidents meant that staff were exposed to radiation while working at the base.
The incidents included radioactive waste being spilled, power supplies being lost and waste being mistakenly dropped overboard as well as the exposure to radiation.
The information was revealed by UK defence minister, Philip Dunne, in response to a parliamentary question from Angus Robertson MP, the SNP’s defence spokesman and Westminster leader.
According to the MoD two of the incidents since 2008 were defined as “category B.”
This is the second worst rating which involves, “actual or high potential for a contained release within building or submarine or unplanned exposure to radiation.”
In 2008 there was a loss of power at the base after valves on board a submarine were shut “in error.”
In 2009, there were two instances in which cranes were being used more often than they had been authorised for.
In 2010, an ice plug melted after the failure of a liquid nitrogen supply resulted in radioactive coolant leaking into a submarine reactor.
Later, in the same year, a bag of clothing, which was potentially contaminated, fell overboard.
Last year, a group of maintenance workers entered an area close to a reactor compartment “without the proper radiological controls in place and hence received an unplanned exposure to a radiological dose.”
Recently the danger of using cranes to lift nuclear-armed Trident missiles was highlighted by American journalist Eric Schlosser. He said: “I hope in Scotland that they’re very careful when loading and unloading missiles.”
MP Angus Robertson said that the information made for “scary reading.2
He said: “These answers from the MoD make for scary reading. They concern the most serious types of incidents, and information about them wouldn’t be made public without asking.
“Safety should be paramount at all nuclear bases…some of these incidents do not inspire confidence about what is going on there.”
John Ainslie, coordinator of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: “This catalogue of safety errors shows there is always the risk that something can go catastrophically wrong so long as nuclear submarines remain in Scotland.”
Despite fears, UK defence minister Philip Dunne said that none of the incidents at Faslane were serious enough to rate on the International Nuclear Event Scale.