Calls for MoD to assure a continued ban on munitions dumping

Dundrennan Military ranges. SGGY DUNDRENNAN 1 130313
Dundrennan Military ranges. SGGY DUNDRENNAN 1 130313

THE controversial issue over the use of cliffs and bays at Dundrennan as a graveyard for depleted uranium shells has raised its head once again this week.

The MoD has used its site near Kirkcudbright for target practice over the last 30 years - the only such site in the UK - and it’s thought over 6,700 shells have been fired from the range, containing nearly 30 tonnes of DU.

Now a Freedom of Information request has shown that the MoD are denying they have ‘dumped’ shells in the sea, but instead have ‘placed’ them - a term which could therefore allow them to continue using the area for testing.

The shells have long been connected to claims of cancer and other illnesses the world over, and now SNP MP Dr 
Aileen McLeod has asked the MoD to confirm it will cease firing at Dundrennan.

She said: “I think that any reasonable person being told that test-fired depleted uranium shells were being “placed” in the Solway would struggle to believe their ears. In fact, parliamentary questions over the years,

many of which were tabled by my predecessor Alasdair Morgan, highlighted that the MoD doesn’t know how many DU shells there are in the Solway and certainly does not know where they are, far less has any plans to remove

them.

“These FoI responses would appear to have uncovered a cynical attempt to get round international agreements designed to protect the environment, so that test firing of DU shells can continue.

“I also know that campaigners are concerned that a further round of test firing may be on the cards and that Dundrennan is the only location in Britain at which this exercise is undertaken.

“Although this issue is primarily reserved to Westminster, Scotland’s environment is the Scottish Government’s responsibility and I note that the Scottish Government is totally opposed to the test-firing of DU

munitions anywhere in Scotland. The MoD and the Westminster Government must live up to their obligations to international agreements, not continue this practice and cover for it with weasel words.

“I am therefore writing to the UK Secretary of State for Defence to seek an assurance that no further test firing of DU shells will take place at Dundrennan.”

Campaigners argue that by exploiting this loophole the MoD is able to fire nuclear waste into the sea with impunity. Aneaka Kellay of the Campaign Against Depleted Uranium (CADU) said: “However the MoD name their firing programme, the fact remains that they have purposefully released substantial quantities of nuclear waste into the Solway Firth, with little idea of how this will affect the marine environment and no plans to retrieve it.

“The Scottish public will struggle to understand how the MoD thought that they could evade their legal and moral responsibility not to pollute the sea by calling this a ‘placement’.

“CADU invites the MoD to retrieve the DU rounds they have so carefully ‘placed’ into the Solway Firth and refrain from placing any more as we seek legal advice on this glorified form of dumping.”