November 11, 2008

Sub’s Radioactive Water Leak Probed

British environmental officials say they're looking into leaks of radioactive water from a nuclear submarine at a Royal Navy dockyard.

Ministry of Defense officials said 74 gallons of contaminated water spilled Friday from the HMS Trafalgar while it was docked at Devonport in Plymouth, England. Britain's Environment Agency is investigating the leak, the Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday.

"We are certain there is no significant environmental impact, but we have taken our own samples for reassurance purposes and these are in addition to the monitoring carried out by the Ministry of Defense," an Environment Agency spokesman told the newspaper. "We will investigate the circumstances of this unauthorized discharge and make sure that all necessary measures are taken to stop it happening again."

Some, however, criticized defense officials for waiting three days before bringing the episode to light.

"This is very serious because it means there has been a breakdown in nuclear safety protocols," nuclear consultant John Large told the Telegraph. "The risk to the public is virtually zero but there was a risk to the workers who may have been exposed to this without being aware of it."