Warning for Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth after power loss to a nuclear ring
SAFETY concerns have been raised after a nuclear ring at Devonport Dockyard lost power for 90 minutes.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been issued with a warning over the incident, which it admits in a report could have had "implications".
MP Oliver Colvile said he would be looking for answers from Babcock International Group, which is responsible for running the site.
The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) issued an improvement notice on the dockyard after an MoD report revealed "events" at the dockyard which raised nuclear concerns.
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According to the annual 2012 site report into safety practices at Devonport, a nuclear ring at the base "experienced a complete loss of supplies for over 90 minutes".
This loss of power, which happened on July 29 last year at 7pm, had "potential nuclear implications", the report states.
Power is essential at the dockyard to ensure reactors on the nuclear submarines are kept cool.
The incident was described as the "most significant" of the 50 events reported in 2012.
Others included workers leaving radioactive material on a jetty and disposing of water which contained tritium off-site.
An 'event', according to the report, covers any occurrence on the Naval base site, which may affect, or have the potential to affect, nuclear or radiological safety. The number of events had gone up by 10 compared with 2011.
An international investigation by Babcock discovered that the power blackout was caused by a defect on a nuclear switchboard.
The report raised a number of issues of concern including that Babcock had failed "to learn from previous incidents and to implement the recommendations from previous reports".
It also said there was "the potential for hidden defects in the switchboard gear."
MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport Mr Colvile said he would be meeting with Babcock officials and ministers this week.
"We are all very supportive of the dockyard and Babcock but what does need to happen is they need to explain how this came about and give us a reassurance that this isn't going to happen again," he told The Herald.
"We want to make sure we are living in a city that is safe while having this work going on around us.
"I will be speaking to Babcock this morning to find out exactly what the circumstances were and what happened.
"I'm concerned and I will be talking to Ministers about this."
A spokeswoman for the MoD said an improvement programme had been drawn up.
She said: "The MoD is aware that the ONR has issued an improvement notice to Devonport Royal Dockyard Limited, as the site licensee to Devonport Dockyard.
"We understand that Babcock Marine (the parent company of DRDL) has agreed with the ONR an improvement programme that will enable the identified issues to be addressed in a timely manner.
"We take all safety concerns extremely seriously, but note that the ONR has confirmed that there is no immediate safety impact.
"We will continue to work with Babcock Marine and safety regulators to ensure that safety is managed effectively across the wider Devonport site."
A spokesman for the ONR said: "ONR served DRDL with the improvement notice after being made aware of a number of incidents at the site in which operations were not carried out in accordance with DRDL's own operating rules and instructions.
"Subsequent inspections by ONR found that DRDL had not made adequate management arrangements to ensure that their operating rules and instructions were implemented."
Babcock, which was unavailable for comment last night, has until March 31, 2014, to make the necessary improvements.