COMMENT & ANALYSIS: MoD must give guarantees.
OVER recent weeks, the Mersey estuary has been identified as a suitable site for a number of projects which are bound to set alarm bells ringing among the local population.
Most recently, a Defra report put forward a plan to break up and recycle so-called toxic "ghost ships" at the former Cammell Laird For the football team see Cammell Laird FC.
Cammell Laird, one of the most famous names in British shipbuilding during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, came about following the merger of Laird, Son & Co. of Birkenhead and Johnson Cammell & Co. shipyard in Wirral.
Potentially more alarming still, today we can reveal plans to bring nuclear submarines back to Liverpool.
The Ministry of Defence is in talks with local authority leaders about reopening a mothballed "Z-berth" at the Port of Liverpool The Port of Liverpool is the name for the enclosed dock system that runs from Herculaneum Dock to Seaforth Dock, on the east side of the River Mersey, combined with the facilities built around the Great Float on the west side of the river. , to allow the subs to dock for supplies and to change crews.
Under the plans, schools and homes near the port would stockpile potassium iodide potassium iodide
A white crystalline compound used as a source of iodine to treat thyrotoxic crisis and to prevent thyroid cancer in the event of overexposure to nuclear radiation. It is also used as an expectorant and antifungal. tablets ahead of a visit to lessen the effects of exposure to radiation if there was an accident.
Such a move, though well-meaning, is hardly likely to provide reassurance to local people, and the proposal has already provoked a strong reaction, with the Nuclear Free Local Authorities group comparing it to "putting a nuclear reactor in the middle of a town".
The Z-berth falls within the boundaries of Sefton Council, which - unlike Liverpool - is not a member of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities.
It is inevitable that protests over plans like this attract accusations of "nimbyism". Nevertheless, this plan is bound to cause great concern.
No matter how soothing the words of the Royal Navy, residents living in the immediate vicinity of the Z-berth will take some convincing of the safety of this plan.
Over the years, much good work has been done to clean up the River Mersey
If the MoD is serious about this plan, designed to take the strain off its main berths at Plymouth, Barrow-in-Furness, and Faslane on the Clyde, it will have to provide copper-bottomed guarantees that the presence of these submarines on the Mersey does not put people or the local environment at risk.