Scotland complains over UK handling of nuclear leak

March 10, 2014 - 10:10:40 am
LONDON: A Scottish nationalist leader accused Britain yesterday of disrespecting the Scottish parliament over its handling of a problem with a Scotland-based nuclear reactor, stoking tension between London and Edinburgh before an independence referendum.

Alex Salmond, the leader of Scotland’s devolved parliament, demanded an apology from Prime Minister David Cameron after not being told that an internal leak was found in 2012 at the Dounreay site in Scotland where a test reactor identical to those on Britain’s nuclear submarine fleet is housed. 

British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said on Thursday that radiation had been discovered in cooling water around the reactor. 

He said the leak had not posed a safety risk and that nuclear regulators and Scottish environmental authorities and had been notified at the time. 

Salmond’s reaction shows the strained relations between the British and Scottish governments as campaigning before the referendum turns increasingly acrimonious. 

In recent weeks, nationalists have accused Britain of bullying over its refusal let Scotland share the sterling currency if it voted to split.

Salmond, who has promised voters a nuclear-weapons-free Scotland if they back independence, seized on the fact that the leak had not been disclosed sooner to the Scottish parliament.