The Ministry of Defence has revealed proposals for a new ‘Nuclear Support Hub’, which it says will reduce the amount of radioactivity discharged into the Gareloch.
The two-storey building, 45 metres long and 31 metres wide, would be on a concrete podium with an access ramp constructed over the water at Faslane.
The plans for HM Naval Base Clyde will be decided by Argyll and Bute Council, and detailed in lengthy documents drawn up by planning agents Jacobs Ltd which say it will process low-level radioactive liquid waste.
The facility has an estimated lifespan of 50 years; of planning permission is given, construction is expected to begin in January 2016 and end in April 2018.
A supporting statement by the planning agents adds: “The existing effluent treatment and disposal process is effective but nearing the end of its life and it requires to be replaced with a facility which will utilise modern technology and will reduce the levels of radioactivity in the effluent discharges into the Gareloch.
“The opportunity is being taken to continue two facilities into a combined modern facility with the benefits of integrated services and health physics as well as a reduced nuclear footprint for the base.”
It adds that radioactive liquid effluent and solid waste from nuclear-powered submarines has been successfully treated and disposed of at Faslane since 1967.
The new building would treat and dispose of liquid waste, treat and condition solid waste and decontaminate tools and equipment used in maintaining nuclear-powered vessels.
Effluent would be processed to a level where it can be discharged into the Gareloch within limits agreed with SEPA.
The statement by Jacobs adds: “The annual discharge consent levels for the different radioactive species (except tritium) will be lower than for the existing arrangements, and levels of radioactivity discharged into the Gareloch over recent years have been significantly less than the consented limits.
“Therefore, based on current throughput of wastes, the proposed development is predicted to be of benefit to the environment of the Gareloch when compared to the existing treatment facility arrangements.”
Further details of the plan are available on the council’s website – search for planning application reference number 14/02508