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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 24 December, 2002, 11:12 GMT
Weapons site clean-up delayed
Workers cleaning the former Atomic Weapons Establishment, Cardiff
Work to clean the former AWE site began in October
The clearance of radioactive contaminated matter from a former atomic weapons site in Cardiff has been extended after new areas were identified for clean-up.

Ministry of Defence agents, Defence Estates, who own the site in Llanishen, had hoped that most of the work would be finished by 2002.

We had hoped that the majority of the work would be completed by the end of the year

Defence Estates

But contractors carrying out the removal of uranium and other dangerous poisons from the site have found other areas needing work.

Defence Estates have said that the levels of contamination found have been consistent with or lower than those predicted.

The decontamination of the site - which has an estimated 80 tonnes of depleted uranium, showing elevated levels of radioactivity - began in October.

So far no radioactive material - which is expected to extracted and taken away in sealed containers - has been removed.

Defence Estates, agents of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), have notified people living nearby about the progress.

In a letter to residents, they stated: "We had hoped that the majority of the work would be completed by the end of the year.

Radiation symbol
The toxins will be taken away in sealed containers

"Unfortunately, this will not be the case as some additional work areas have been identified.

"This together with our efforts to restrict the number of lorry movements to and from the site has meant that works will now continue until early February."

As part of the work, a tent has been erected over the area of depleted uranium to ensure it is contained.

Defence Estates said: "Work to remove the radioactive contamination is currently ongoing within this structure, although to date no radioactive material has been removed from the site."

Precautions have also been made in the event of any future firefighters strikes.

Nuclear weapons

"We have given an undertaking not to transport radioactively contaminated materials during the periods of fire service industrial action," said Defence Estates.

"This may ultimately have the effect of prolonging the works, but we consider this is the appropriate course of action to take given the circumstances."

AWE Cardiff was one of the four government owned contractor operated sites that formed the UK's Atomic Weapons Establishment.

It was originally established in 1940 as a Royal Ordnance factory, manufacturing field guns and other weaponry.

In 1960, it became part of the AWE, with production switching to the manufacture of components for the nuclear weapons programme.

The plant closed in February 1997.


More from south east Wales
See also:

07 Oct 02 | Wales
14 Nov 02 | Africa
28 Nov 02 | England
13 Nov 02 | Scotland
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