Radioactive waste dumped in NI in 1970s

Published Tuesday, 31 December 2013
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State papers released under the 30 year rule have revealed that radioactive waste was secretly dumped in Northern Ireland in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The State papers show that between 1977 and 1982 radioactive material was disposed of at Duncrue Street in north Belfast and at Culmore just outside Derry.

The papers refer to controlled burials of radioactive waste that came from hospital and university sources.

During that time, five areas in the region were authorised for the burial of radioactive waste.

Besides Belfast and Derry, a site in Newtownabbey and two sites in Coleraine were also earmarked.

In the end, though, Newtownabbey and Coleraine were not used.

The secret dumping of radioactive waste has raised concerns for those living near the affected sites.

Environment Minister Mark H. Durkan told UTV that the revelations certainly came as a surprise to him.

"I will now be endeavouring to ascertain whether or not they came as a surprise to everyone or had the British Government informed local authorities here, those responsible for waste here in Northern Ireland at that time, that they were dumping nuclear waste here.

"I have already instructed the Northern Ireland Environment Agency to carry out a full investigation of the sites mentioned in these papers to ascertain as to whether or not there is any risk posed, but I also want a historic check done as to what information, if any, was given to local authorities at that time to allow them to monitor the sites, indeed to ensure that they were safe and there was no risk to health and most importantly, that there is no risk to health."

It may be more than 30 years since the radioactive material was dumped, but questions remain over why members of the public - and specifically those council workers employed at these sites at the time - were never informed about the dumping of these hazardous materials.

Tony Hassan, Sinn Féin councillor for Culmore, has called for an emergency meeting of the Environmental Services Committee of Derry City Council.

He said that local people have been left shocked at the revelation.

"Residents are demanding to know the full facts of what went on thirty years ago and what are the health implications today. There needs to be full disclosure," he added.

"I have been in contact with health officials at Derry City Council and I am calling for an emergency meeting of the Environmental Services Committee.

"It also vitally important that residents in Strathfoyle and those living along the River Foyle in our neighbouring county of Donegal in areas such as Muff, Moville and Greencastle get the full facts of what has gone on here.

© UTV News
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10 Comments
Tommy Atkins in London, England wrote (112 days ago):
It would be beneficial and advisable for the N Ireland people to have an indepentant, investigation into amy illnesses, or increased sickness around these areas. Furthermore they need to demand information concerning the possible contruction of housing etc in the vicinity of these sites
Damien Harkin in Derry wrote (112 days ago):
why is the North west a hotspot for lung cancer and why are there three children a week on average diagnosed with cancer in northern Ireland when life style and choices can't be blamed.we want the truth now
jackie in belfast wrote (113 days ago):
This is sickening ,there needs to be a full enquiry into this. Have people from north Belfast been affected by this? What are the risks now to the people from these areas ? Nuclear waste is active for hundreds if not thousands of years!! So tell us now what are the risks to the health of children and future generations? Also we must know if people living in the areas affected have had a higher mortality rate from cancers and other illnesses linked to radioactive waste!
eye of province in watching wrote (114 days ago):
Yes you are Peter in Derry, just the same way as windscale is pumping millons of tons of it into the Irish sea....
Robo in Belfast wrote (114 days ago):
Maybe the fishing for shellfish at loughshore/ belfast lough should be stopped, that waste will have been seeping from tip head for 30 odd years.
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Twenty years ago there was something said but not really heard.
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