Submarine incident brings into sharp focus the absolute catastrophe that could have unfolded

By Bill Heaney

Assurances were given this week that everything possible possible has been done to ensure the safety of local people in the event of a nuclear accident.

Cllr Jim Bollan, pictured left, of the Community Party, who raised the matter was told that West Dunbartonshire Council has a strong and robust emergency planning regime that is well tested.

Councillors were told this week: “When incidents occur in the local areas, the respective structures stand up to ensure the residents of West Dunbartonshire are looked after and supported accordingly.

“There is a strong level of resilience awareness, planning and preparedness undertaken year on year,
now well embedded in the organisation’s culture.”

Cllr Bollan told the Council: “Council will be aware of the recent reports of the serious fire on the vanguard-class Nuclear Submarine, which was carrying Trident missiles, while it was in the North Atlantic.

“The fire was tackled by the crew, then the submarine had to surface to expel toxic fumes.

“The incident brings into sharp focus the absolute catastrophe that could have unfolded had the submarine been lost in the North Atlantic.

“This dangerous incident will be of great concern to many local people given the location of the incident and that the submarine is being taken back to Faslane Base.”

Cllr Bollan said that given the gravity of the situation Council should the CEO to bring a report to the
next Council meeting detailing what contingency plans the Council has in the event of a serious Nuclear incident at Faslane, or the surrounding waters, to support and protect the residents of West Dunbartonshire.”

HMS Victorious, one of the Royal Navy’s four strategic missile submarines, departs her home port in the Gareloch. Victorious and her sister submarines provide the UK’s national deterrent and can carry up to 16 Trident nuclear missiles.

The Royal Navy vanguard-class nuclear submarine, HMS Victorious, aborted its mission after an on- board fire on Monday 7 November, 2022., and the vessel’s crew responded by dousing the electrical fire.

The ship’s captain declared an emergency as the fire spread quickly forcing the submarine to surface to expel the toxic fumes. The vessel was then commanded to return to base at HMNB Clyde in Faslane.

To ensure the safety and well-being of residents within West Dunbartonshire and the surrounding area, there are well established emergency planning forums and plans in place to mitigate incidents.

The meeting heard that the lead officer for resilience for West Dunbartonshire Council Victoria Rogers,  pictured right, is the Chief Officer People and Technology and this area of work is supported by an
established shared civil contingencies service (CCS)  which provides a 6 FTE strong team of support officers, including out of hours  standby.

The Council has a dedicated Civil Contingencies Officer responsible for reviewing and updating the Council’s suite of Incident Response Procedures and relevant plans that would be invoked should the Council be required to respond to an incident in the local area.

There are also trained Council Incident Officers (CIO), typically senior officers, who would be deployed to support emergency service partners on-scene, facilitate decision making and resource co-ordination.

Consequently, council members have been told, reassurance can be taken from the resilience structure within West Dunbartonshire Council being equipped to manage and respond to a nuclear incident and indeed any other incident that may pose a threat to West Dunbartonshire Council.

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