Nuclear waste dumped in landfill

7th February 2007
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The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has been found guilty by a court in Scotland of dumping radioactive nuclear waste into a conventional landfill site and allowing radioactive particles to leak from its Dounreay reprocessing plant.

The UKAEA pleaded guilty to four separate charges brought by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), namely:

• Unauthorised disposals of radioactive waste at Landfill 42 between 1963 and 1975;

• failure to prevent fragments of irradiated nuclear fuel being discharged into the environment between 1963 and 1984;

• the unauthorised disposal of fragments of irradiated nuclear fuel from a fuel storage pond to a surface water drain between 1964 and 1967;

• the unauthorised disposals of solid radioactive waste to the conventional foul drainage and surface water drainage system, resulting from a spill at building D1251 in November 1965.

The court also heard that between 1976 and 2006, a total of 1401 nuclear particles had been found, mostly from the local seabed and from Sandside Beach. Hugh Fearn, SEPA's radiation specialist, said:

"The nature of the radioactive contamination has lasting consequences for the future and this is something which will need to be addressed by the polluter, UKAEA."

Lorraine Mann, a long-standing campaigner against UKAEA's activities in Dounreay, described the facility in an interview with the BBC as "the nuclear plant from hell", adding that she believes that leaks of radioactive material are still occurring.

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This article first appeared in the Ecologist February 2007

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