Saturday, February 05, 2005

ESG accuse Ministry of Defence of “misintormation and secrecy”

HMS Sceptre repairs

Local pressure group Environmental Safety Group has expressed its concern regarding the visit of HMS Sceptre while stating its “frustration” that public information leaflets have still not been provided to the community. The ESG said:

We reiterate our call for the cessation of visits by nuclear submarines. This latest visit with the misinformation and secrecy by the Ministry of Defence highlights what we have talked about time and time again. That the MoD will do whatever is necessary to meet its needs above the wishes and knowledge of Gibraltar.

In 2004 the ESG exchanged correspondence with the MoD and our own Government regarding the need for up to date, practical information on nuclear safety issues to be made available. Indeed the group was requesting for the same information that has already been issued to the UK communities in the form of Public Information Leaflets. The MoD passed this responsibility on to our Government who has not replied to a letter sent to them on this matter in August 2004.

For the ESG it is very clear. We continue harbouring these submarines to show goodwill and maintain good relations with the UK, but this does not meet with the support of many Gibraltarians. We still rely on a cut and paste GibPubSafe document which was shown to be totally inadequate with HMS Tireless and will therefore be no different on this occasion. Our efforts to obtain up to date advice on safety for the community against a possible nuclear accident both from MoD and the Gibraltar Government have not succeeded.

Gibraltar is too small and populated to run the risk of a nuclear accident and carry out any evacuation plan. This is also a delicate political and economic issue. It is a public safety issue and should be treated as such. Not only when limping submarines enter our port and undergo repairs against the wishes of the local authority, but as an improved and upgraded Government policy to address these issues with a view to ruling out visits from nuclear submarines to Gibraltar altogether.

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