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Scottish FM demands nuclear reactor fault apology

HMS Vanguard arrives back at HM Naval Base Clyde, Faslane. Credit: Creative Commons

Alex Salmond has demanded an apology from David Cameron for failing to tell Scottish ministers about a radiation problem at a nuclear submarine test reactor.

The First Minister said the UK Government had "disrespected" Holyrood and the people of Scotland by not alerting the Scottish Government to the problem for almost two years.

More: MPs urge parliamentary inquiry into radiation leak

MPs urge parliamentary inquiry into radiation leak

Opposition politicians have called for a parliamentary inquiry into the handling of a radiation leak at a nuclear test reactor.

Public confidence has been damaged by the incident at the Vulcan Naval Reactor Test Establishment in Dounreay, Caithness, according to shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker and shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran.

Dounreay nuclear power station in Scotland. Credit: PA

UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond revealed details of a small internal leak of radiation on Thursday as he announced that the nuclear submarine HMS Vanguard is to have its reactor refuelled at a cost of £120 million.

Mr Coaker and Ms Curran said there were "significant questions" about the handling of the incident, particularly the two-year delay in making it public.

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Vanguard fleet of Trident submarines set to be replaced

Replacing Britain's nuclear deterrent has proved a flashpoint for the Coalition with Liberal Democrats opposed to "like for like" replacement and Conservatives committed to a full renewal of the UK's fleet of four Vanguard-class submarines by 2028.

Liberal Democrat Defence Minister Nick Harvey has been conducting a review of possible cheaper alternatives.

The first of the four Vanguards had been due to leave service in 2022, but the Government extended the vessels' lives as part of the 2010 Defence and Security Review.

Final decisions about ordering replacements do not have to be taken until 2016, after the next general election.

£1billion contract for nuclear submarines 'agreed'

The Defence Secretary has agreed the deal as part of Government plans to replace the Vanguard fleet.
The Defence Secretary has agreed the deal as part of Government plans to replace the Vanguard fleet. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire/Press Association Images

A £1billion contract for reactors to power the next generation of Britain's nuclear submarines will be announced this week, it was reported today.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has agreed the deal as part of Government plans to replace the Vanguard fleet that carries the Trident nuclear deterrent, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

The money will be used to build two reactor cores, one of which will be used for the seventh Astute Class attack submarine and one for the first of the next generation nuclear deterrent submarines.

It will also be used to fund an 11-year refit of the Rolls-Royce five-year-old plant at Raynesway, Derby, which will carry out the highly-specialised work. The deal will directly create 300 jobs.

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