Britain Denies Nuclear Submarine Safety Problems Pose Public Hazard

Britain's Defense Ministry denied news reports Monday that claimed safety problems with its nuclear submarine fleet pose a hazard to the public.

The reports, based on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Britain's Channel 4 News, said leaks of radioactive coolant from nuclear submarines entered a waterway near Glasgow, Scotland, in 2004, 2007 and last year.

The Defense Ministry said Monday the releases were too small to pose any risk to humans or the environment.

The releases "had no measurable or quantifiable environmental consequences," it said.

"The MOD is a responsible nuclear operator and informed the appropriate regulatory authorities. We commissioned an independent study into the facilities and practices at HM Naval Base Clyde and an improvement plan is currently under way to ensure modern standards and best practice at the base," the ministry said.

The reports also claim that radioactive waste tanks are in a hazardous state and should be taken out of commission and that staff at the facility are poorly trained and staffing levels are too low.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency said it helps oversee safety at the defense ministry site but doesn't have formal regulatory powers.

"At a civilian installation we could be considering suspending certain activities until improvements had been made in the essential equipment, operating procedures and training to prevent a recurrence of an unauthorized release," the environmental agency said in a written statement Monday.