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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 October, 2004, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
Water tests at nuclear waste site
The Drigg nuclear waste site is over 40 years old
Boreholes are to be sunk at a nuclear waste storage site in Cumbria to ensure underground water is not contaminated.

Drilling of 16 boreholes could begin before the end of the year at the Drigg storage facility near Sellafield.

British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) says the work is routine and will involve the collection of soil and water samples.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust has objected to the plan, claiming protected species like the Natterjack Toad may be harmed.

Cumbria County Council is considering two planning application for drilling, submitted by BNFL.

BNFL says the work is likely to take up to four months to complete.

The Drigg site is 6km south of Sellafield and has been in operation for more than 40 years.

Key finding

It contains tonnes of low level nuclear waste from nuclear facilities, universities and hospitals.

In March 2003 the Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee (RWMAC), an independent government advisory body, said the site at Drigg was filling up too fast.

The committee carried out two studies into the volume of radioactive waste that will need to be managed in the UK as a result of nuclear decommissioning and clean-up.

A key finding was that reliance on the Drigg site as a long term management solution for "low activity wastes" was misplaced.

The RWMAC said the site was filling up and more space was needed.

It recommended that the government create a radioactive materials inventory to take a fuller account of "all existing and potential nuclear liabilities."

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