Rolls Royce Raynesway
Reactors & fuel rods
At the Rolls Royce Raynesway factory in Derby the reactors and fuel rods for the nuclear propulsion units in the Trident and new Astute class submarines are manufactured. The work includes the provision of heavy pressure vessels, nuclear cores and steam raising capacity. Rolls Royce is also investing heavily in preparation for civil nuclear power contracts. The factory is located on the flood plain of the river Derwent and next to two large conurbations. The nuclear industry is inherently dangerous, unable to find a solution to the long term problem of waste disposal and in denial of the scientific evidence of health risks. And accidents will happen, as Astute has just demonstrated off Skye! The safety reassurances of big multi-nationals appear worthless as environmental disaster after disaster show, from Bhopal to recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The UK’s Trident missile programme has always been based on the assumption that a minimum of four submarines is needed to provide a credible “continuous at sea deterrence” (CASD): that is one at sea, one in reserve, one in training and one being repaired. However, for the last two years the Royal Navy has been coping with only three available boats, thanks to a major fault that requires not just deep maintenance but structural repair.
It is at the Rolls-Royce factory at Raynesway in Derby that the submarines are manufactured. However Government plans for the next generation of Trident submarine reactors are under threat from staff shortages and spending cuts, according to an expert report for the Ministry of Defence. The report criticises the MoD’s nuclear submarine programme as “introspective”, “somewhat incestuous” and warns it’s facing a “perfect storm” of problems. It also urges the MoD to work more closely with the civil nuclear power industry. Critics warn that the MoD is putting public safety at risk by cutting corners, and that nuclear defence could be “cross-subsidised” by the civil industry.
Last week former military chiefs warned that British armed forces were no longer fit for purpose. The army was 20 years out of date, the navy under-funded and the air force at the edge of its engineering capacity, according to General Sir Richard Barrons, who retired last year as commander of joint forces command.
The submarine report was commissioned by the MoD in 2014 after a radiation leak at the Vulcan reactor testing facility near Dounreay in Caithness. The leak forced a £270 million rejig of the refuelling programme for existing Trident submarines based on the Clyde. But the report has been kept secret since then, until a heavily-censored version was released by the MoD earlier this month under freedom of information law.
Nuclear Deterrence doesn’t work! Craig Murray wrote recently:
‘If the theory of nuclear deterrence holds true – and it is the only argument the supporters of WMD have got – then we should all be cheering the North Korean bomb. The logic of nuclear deterrence is that it is much better that every state has nuclear weapons, because then we can all deter each other. It is demonstrably true that possession of nuclear weapons is not a deterrent to other nations acquiring them. But it is supposed to deter other nations from using them. In which case, surely the more the merrier, so we can all deter each other.
The madness of the argument is self-evident. We are borrowing hundreds of billions we cannot afford for Trident, yet in all the reams of analysis of what to do about North Korea, Trident never gets a mention. It is a system entirely useless even in the one situation in which it was supposed to be effective.’
‘What is the difference between a nuclear bomb and an ordinary bomb?’ a student asked recently. The people of Japan know the difference – the decimation of two entire cities and their populations in a flash in August 1945, the radiation sickness that killed so many in the months, years, decades that followed. Nuclear weapons leave effects that pass from one generation to another, they do not respect any borders for the water, soil and air they pollute know no boundaries. And today’s nuclear weapons are so powerful they would cause a ‘nuclear winter’, having such an impact on the atmoshere that we would all be facing long-term famine.
Every year a vigil is held on 9th August to remember all who died or were affected by those two bombs in 1945 – and to honour their memory by calling for a different way to conduct international affairs, one that does not involve the threat of mass murder. It is held outside Rolls-Royce in Derby because Raynesway ‘is the centre of Rolls-Royce’s specialist nuclear activities…the largest nuclear skills base in the UK.’
The Roll-Royce factory on Raynesway in Derby is not only central to the development & production of our nuclear submarines: it is the major employer of a highly skilled workforce which which is of great significance to the local economy. Derby Trades Council is holding an Industry Day Conference on 7th October exploring possibilities to diversify local weapons industry, engineering and scientific skills to invest in more sustainable & socially useful industries Derby CND is exploring the issues of diversification from military to civilian production and hopes to widen the debate through creating links with students and academics at Derby University, with a conference on diversification next year. Rolls-Royce has the skilled workforce and technical expertise to develop a range of state-of-the-art products which have a socially-useful purpose, a process that is less capital intensive and one which will lead to more not fewer jobs. This is the future.
More information: Viv Ring, Derby CND firstname.lastname@example.org; 0755 727 1015 facebook.com/EastMidsCND
We welcome the decision by Trades Union Congress 2017 to call on Labour to establish a Shadow Defence Diversification Agency ahead of the next general election. The agency will address the long-term challenges of a shrinking manufacturing sector by “developing an overall national industrial strategy including the possibility of conversion of ‘defence’ capacity”.
Kate Hudson, CND general secretary, said:”This is very welcome news. Jobs are often presented as an argument in favour of Trident replacement, so it’s essential that there is a plan to secure alternative high-skilled jobs – and to create many more jobs – if a Labour government decides to scrap the present government’s £205 billion scheme. Following the 40th Anniversary of the ‘Lucas Plan’ we need to learn the lessons of that historic vision which set out how to deploy highly skilled defence workers into others areas of Britain’s industrial economy. The Lucas Plan demonstrated the potential of using those skills for more socially beneficial economic activity, rather than weapons that would kill millions if they were used.A Shadow Defence Diversification Agency, involving the workforce, can begin the research now that a future government will need to scrap Trident and increase industrial employment.”.
The UK’s Trident missile programme has always been based on the assumption that a minimum of four submarines is needed to provide a credible “continuous at sea deterrence” (CASD): that is one at sea, one in reserve, one in training anone being repaired. However, for the last two years the Royal Navy has been coping with only three available boats, thanks to a major fault that requiresnot just deep maintenance but structural repair.
Before 2014 the navy boasted four Vanguardclass Trident missile-equipped boats. They are nuclear-powered by means of a pressurised waterreactor, the PWR2, built by Rolls-Royce and tested at the Ministry of Defence’s Vulcan Naval ReactorTest Establishment, at Dounreay in Scotland. One of the reactors is kept at Vulcan for testing, while therest are fitted to submarines. In a confusing division of responsibility, Vulcan is operated by Roll-Royce “on behalf of the MoD”, but “led” by a small team from the Royal Navy. So, in 2012, when the PWR2 reactor at Vulcan started leaking low levels of radioactivity into its coolant water – it’s primary cooling circuit – suggesting the ones in the submarines might be similarly compromised, both the MoD and Rolls-Royce decided the best thing to do was, er, not to tell anyone.
The decision to keep the PWR2 incident secret was taken despite an assessment of the reactor by the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator in November 2009 (itself kept secret for two years) which concluded that the PWR2 was “potentially vulnerable to a structural failure of the primary circuit” which could present “significant safety hazards to crew and the public” It was only when the Scottish Environment
Protection Agency became aware of an increase in discharges of radioactive gases around Vulcan that the problem was officially revealed when the then defence secretary, Philip Hammond, had to admit in the Commons that “the reactor is not operating exactly as planned”. Vanguard’s reactor was the first to be hauled out in late 2015, in a £270m operation that is still underway and has by necessity, then, been out of commission for two years and the MoD has been told to wait until early 2019 to get it back.
Alarmingly tensions between the United States and North Korea have again reached crisis proportions. The unpredictable leaders of both countries are pursuing extremely provocative and destabilizing patterns of behaviour. The risk of this tense situation spiralling out of control should not be minimized.
Meanwhile the safety of nuclear weapon production is also question. Last year the revelation that a Trident missile test had to be aborted after the missile veered off course towards Florida highlights the danger nuclear weapons pose to the world. At the same time the US Nuclear Facilities Safety Board had to consider the future of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, (one of the US’ main nuclear weapons facilities) after a fire broke out at the plutonium facility. The Board is unsure whether Los Alamos is competent to continue to operate and handle increasing quantities of plutonium in the coming years.
Additionally we are on the verge of the emergence of several key technologies, including swarming drones in large quantities covering large areas of ocean, massive expansion in the capability of computers, abilities to sense and communicate underwater, that will sooner or later render the stealth of submarines inoperable.
During the Election campaign candidates have been repeatedly asked if they would or wouldn’t be prepared to launch a nuclear strike and in what circumstances they would be willing to order the mass killing of millions of people in a nuclear exchange.
“The incoming government will inherit a decision to replace the UK’s nuclear weapons system, Trident, at a cost of more than £205bn. At a time when our public services are under continued financial pressure, this money could be spent much better in other government departments. It is time for action to rid the UK of these devastating weapons of mass destruction.
In just nine days time the international community will gather at the United Nations to conclude negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. The last government boycotted the first round of talks, and we urge the new government to join the global mainstream and work towards a world free of nuclear weapons.
The UK has a chance to lead the world towards a new future free of the threat of nuclear catastrophe. CND and our supporters sincerely hope that progress can be made.”
Kate Hudson on 9th June 17
The Roll-Royce factory on Raynesway in Derby is not only central to the development & production of our nuclear submarines: it is the major employer of a highly skilled workforce which is of great significance to the local economy. CND in Derby is exploring the issues of diversification from military to civilian production and hopes to widen the debate through discussions with the Trade Unions and creating links with students and academics at Derby University, with a conference on diversification in the autumn.
EMCND will continue to hold vigils outside the factory to draw public attention to the horrific consequences of nuclear warfare (the bombing of Nagasaki on Tuesday 9th August) and of the nuclear accidents at Chernobyl & Fukushima.