Belfast Telegraph

State papers: Belfast industrial site used to bury radioactive waste

By Adrian Rutherford

Radioactive waste was dumped at a Belfast industrial site in the 1980s.

Duncrue Street was one of two sites where "controlled burials" were carried out, official papers disclose.

The details were compiled by civil servants in response to a Parliamentary question from the Labour MP Frank Cook.

The Stockton North MP had asked for a list of sites authorised for the disposal of radioactive waste in the United Kingdom.

His questions came amid a growing national controversy over the Windscale nuclear facility, now better known as Sellafield.

In November 1983 a major Yorkshire Television documentary raised concerns over the health impact of the nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria.

An internal memo reveals that five disposal sites for radioactive waste were in operation in Northern Ireland from 1977 to 1982.

These were at Duncrue Street; Culmore Point in Derry; Bruslee in Newtownabbey; Mayboy Road and Letterloan Road, Coleraine.

The Newtownabbey and Coleraine sites had not been used.

The memo said "a number of controlled burials of hospital/university waste of short half life together with small amounts of industrial waste were arranged" at Duncrue Street. "The total disposed of was 180 millicures (7 gigabecquerels) and of this 91% was radioactive iodine with a half life less than two months."

In Derry, "two consignments of hospital waste were buried. Total activity was 170 microcuries (6 megabecquerels)".

In late 1983 the Northern Ireland Assembly passed a resolution calling on the Departments of Health and Social Services and Environment to carry out an urgent inquiry into levels of radioactivity on Northern Ireland's coast.

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