Scotland Wants U.K. Apology for Lack of Notice on Nuclear-Reactor Leak

The Scottish government is demanding an apology from London for a lack of notification about a radiation leak at a nuclear reactor based in Scotland.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron should apologize for not notifying the Scottish parliament in 2012 when the emission was discovered at a test reactor housed at Dounreay in Scotland, Reuters reported on Sunday.

"You must now offer an immediate explanation of why your government allowed this to happen, an apology for the disregard of established processes and a commitment that it will never happen again," Salmond said.

The latest imbroglio over British nuclear activities in Scotland comes as Salmond's Scottish National Party, governing in Edinburgh, seeks to convince Scottish voters to approve a referendum for independence, scheduled to take place in September. The Scottish National Party has vowed to order U.K. nuclear-armed Trident ballistic-missile submarines expelled from Scotland if it attains a "yes" vote.

British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond on Thursday said radiation was found in the cooling water surrounding the Dounreay reactor -- the same type as those used to power U.K. nuclear submarines. He said the leak was not a safety risk and that atomic regulators and Scottish environmental officials were made aware of the incident when it happened.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency in a statement said it did not disclose the leak because the Defense Ministry had requested the information be kept "on a strict need-to-know basis for security reasons."

Scotland's government now is saying it would order all atomic-powered submarines out of Scotland -- not just nuclear-armed, ballistic-missile vessels -- in the event of independence, the Scottish Herald reported on Sunday.

"We do not see the continued basing of the Astute or Trafalgar fleets at Faslane, beyond the necessary transition period, to be in Scotland's interests," a government spokeswoman told the newspaper.

The United Kingdom in the coming decades anticipates a fleet of 14 atomic-powered submarines: four ballistic-missile submarines, three Trafalgar-class vessels and seven new Astute-class submarines.

March 10, 2014