The Gibraltar Government has stated that HMS
Tireless should not be repaired in Gibraltar unless the Gibraltar Government, separately
advised by an independent panel of experts, was satisfied that carrying out the repairs in
Gibraltar pose no risk to public health or the environment. Separately the MOD should
overcome public concerns and anxieties over this matter.
The Government of Gibraltar appointed a panel of
Mr Peter Davidson a nuclear safety expert and
engineer and an independent member of the Nuclear Safety Committee at Devenport, UK.
Mr John Large, a nuclear safety expert and engineer
with considerable experience and track record of advising local Governments and
environmental organisations and lobby groups.
Ove Arup a leading UK firm of Consulting
Mr Alan Martin, a nuclear safety and Radiation
In assessing whether the carrying out of repairs to
HMS Tireless posed risk to the public or the environment, the Government brief to the
panel of experts invited them to compare such risks to those which Gibraltar has
habitually accepted during all historical nuclear vessel visits to Gibraltar for
recreational or operational purposes.
The Gibraltar Government has now received the Report
of its panel of experts. The panel of experts has confirmed that it has obtained a
significant amount of MOD information and documents and is satisfied that this information
is sufficient for its purposes. The panel is also satisfied with the quality of the
MODs work and the underlying safety culture.
The panel of experts have unanimously concluded as
The long time since the reactor was shut down means
that HMS Tireless is in a safer state than a boat visiting for recreational purposes, and
will remain so throughout the repair period.
The repair operations will not introduce any
significant new safety risks. The panel accept as reasonable the MODs assessment
that the daily risk rate during the repairs is just 15% of the recreational visit daily
risk rate. The panel accept that the daily risk rate posed by HMS Tireless will not exceed
and will generally be significantly lower than that from a normal recreational visit.
The water to be removed from the primary circuit and
other waste is of low radioactivity. The MOD has adopted good safety practice in their
engineered and administrative arrangements for handling and storing it, until it leaves
Gibraltar after the submarines departure. The panel is satisfied that this activity
represents a very low safety risk.
As planned by the MOD the weld repair is very likely
to be successful. The remaining uncertainties have no safety significance but may result
in programme delay. (This refers to a small possibility identified by the Panel that the
small crack which is the source of the leak may extend beyond the weld to the pipe itself.
If this turns out to be the case the consequence is only delay and has no safety
The Panel consider that the three procedures
involved welding, weld examination and pressure testing will provide
sufficient defence in depth against a defective weld surviving undetected through to the
reactor start-up, and conclude that no significant additional safety risks will arise
during reactor start-up and operation prior to the departure from Gibraltar of HMS
The panel considers that the Gibraltar Public Safety
Scheme (Gibpubsafe) provides sufficient contingency in terms of emergency planning
arrangement for the period of the repairs. The Panel concluded that the proposed repairs
do not require an alteration to the Scheme.
In these circumstances the Gibraltar Government is
not opposed to the MODs proposal to carry out the repairs in Gibraltar. If the MOD
decide to proceed with the repairs in Gibraltar, it remains responsible for the
maintenance of the highest standards of safety to ensure the health and safety of the
people of Gibraltar and of our neighbouring region and our environment. It is still
incumbent on MOD to ensure that any reasonable public concern and anxiety that remains is
The Government of Gibraltar considers the repair of
HMS Tireless in Gibraltar to be an isolated and exceptional case that creates no
precedent. The Gibraltar Government is strenuously opposed to the establishment of
Gibraltar as a nuclear vessel repair facility.
The incident of HMS Tireless has raised issues about
the adequacy of current legislation in the area of public health and safety and issues
with a potential to adversely affect them. The Government is to undertake a review of such
The Government is already carrying out, with the
help of a specialist UK contractor, regular monitoring of the atmospheric and aquatic
environments. These will continue on a constant basis until HMS Tireless leaves Gibraltar.
The Government will publish the full report of its
panel of experts during the next few days. Given their obvious interest in the matter, and
pursuant to the Governments policy of cross border co-operation, the Government will
send copies of the report to Campo Mayors, to the Mancomunidad de Municipios and to the
Junta de Andalucia.