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Thursday, October 8, 1998 Published at 18:57 GMT 19:57 UK


Uproar at nuclear waste dump plan

The Trecwn site was formerly owned by the Ministry of Defence

Plans to store nuclear waste at a former military base in one of the most beautiful parts of Wales have caused uproar.

An Anglo-Irish company, Omega Pacific, bought the base at Trecwn in the unemployment blackspot of Pembrokeshire earlier this year.

They promised up to 500 jobs refurbishing jet engines and a narrow gauge railway.

But on Thursday it announced plans to use the site to store nuclear waste.

The company says it will be perfectly safe to store nuclear material - fuel rod cladding and isotopes used in medicine - in 60 tunnels up to three miles deep.

Dug during war

The tunnels at Trecwn, secluded in a wooded valley, once formed the biggest underground munitions depot in Europe.

Built during World War II they once held four million kilograms of high explosive. The depot closed in 1995 - with the loss of 500 jobs - and the tunnels are now empty.

[ image: Jackie Lawrence MP...
Jackie Lawrence MP..."This is appalling"
Local MP Jackie Lawrence said the area's tourist and agricultural industries depend on its clean natural environment.

She said: "Storage of such waste at Trecwn would be a disaster on both economic and environmental grounds. It would be an environmental threat and an economic blight."

An Omega Pacific spokesman said the proposal to store low and intermediate nuclear waste at Trecwn would not affect the engine refurbishment facility, which would open within two years.

He said: "The experts tell us that the unique facility at Trecwn offers the opportunity for safe interim storage of this material where it can be easily monitored.

'Rigorously examined'

"Obviously there is no question of anything happening until a rigorous and public examination of the suitability of this site has been carried out and the relevant regulatory and safety authorities approve it."

Greenpeace said if it was approved the Trecwn site would be likely to store nuclear waste from the Sellafield reprocessing plant in Cumbria.

Dr Helen Wallace, of Greenpeace, said shipments might be transported there by train.

She said: "It is the height of irresponsibility to propose a new dump site when Britain's nuclear waste policy is in crisis."

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