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Monday, 7 October, 2002, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Uranium cleared from weapons site
Workers cleaning the former Atomic Weapons Establishment, Cardiff
The site clean up will take five months to complete
Uranium and other dangerous poisons are being removed from a former atomic weapons establishment five years after the site closed down.

Contaminated material will be cleared from the now closed site in Caerphilly Road, Llanishen, Cardiff during the five month operation.


All the lorries will be checked for radioactivity before being allowed to leave the site

Defence Estates spokesman

About 80 tonnes of depleted uranium - showing elevated levels of radioactivity - will be extracted.

Defence Estates, who own the site, have identified one specific area of soils contaminated with the radioactive material below the former depleted uranium facility.

In a letter sent to residents living near the site, levels of radioactivity are described as "slightly elevated".

In the letter, Defence Estates said: "The level of radioactivity associated with this material is at the lowest end of material classified as low level radioactive waste and is comparable to natural levels of radioactivity in some parts of the world."

Radiation symbol
The toxins will be taken away in sealed containers

Airtight containers will be used to transport the depleted uranium - which is used in ammunition against armoured vehicles - to the British Nuclear Fuels Limited facility at Drigg in Cumbria.

Defence Estates have estimated that no more than four lorry loads of the material will be transported by road for disposal.

They have assured people living near the site that stringent checks will be made before transportation.

"All the lorries will be checked for radioactivity before being allowed to leave the site," said a spokesman for Defence Estates.

Soils contaminated with oil, the solvent trichloroethylene (TCE), arsenic and beryllium will also be removed and dumped at licensed landfills.

Weapons

Earth removed from the site will be replaced with clean materials sourced from within south Wales.

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.

All production ceased at the plant in February 1997.


More from south east Wales
See also:

24 Sep 02 | Africa
14 Mar 02 | Scotland
12 Mar 02 | Science/Nature
03 Mar 02 | Americas
08 Feb 02 | Health
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