NUCLEAR submarine HMS Trafalgar was due to sail into Southampton today – and straight into a storm of controversy.

The 280ft Royal Navy sub was expected to be greeted by angry protesters as it berthed at the docks’ risk area – Z Berth – at midday.

The arrival of the 5,000-tonne sub sparked fears of a nuclear leak in the city after an incident in which it spilled 280 litres of radioactive waste water in Devonport, Plymouth, last month.

The spill – the largest since the 1980s – contained low levels of the radioactive element tritium which were picked up as the water was used to cool the reactor on board the submarine.

The water drained into the River Tamar at Devonport because a hose leaked as the contaminated water was being transferred.

Di McDonald, of Solent Coalition Against Ships, said: “We are shocked the Navy still insists on using Southampton docks for a PR exercise they want to carry out especially after what happened in Plymouth. There’s always a risk something could go wrong.”

However a Navy spokesman said there was no risk of a similar incident happening in the city.

He said: “The discharging of liquid from the submarine to the shore can only be done at Devonport and at Vaslane in Scotland.

“There is no way it could happen in Southampton because those procedures are not undertaken in Southampton.”

A spokesman for Southampton City Council said potassium iodate tablets had been handed out to anyone within a 2km zone of Eastern Docks, including to 12 schools and two nurseries in Southampton and two schools and a nursery in Hythe.

The sub will be in port for five days on what the Navy have called an “official visit” and will be visited by college students, sea cadets and Scouts.