Friday, 9 March 2012

Disposal of Radium by burial Portsmouth Hampshire

Whilst the radium contamination due to the disposal of radium residues by burial at Dalgety Bay is well known; it is interesting to note that radium wastes arising from defence activities were also disposed of by burial at Hilsea in Portsmouth Hampshire.

By way of background a recent article in the Guardian MOD lists sites not previously known to have been contaminated with radium and sites previously known to have been contaminated with radium. 

It is notable that the site where radium was disposed of by burial at Hilsea Lines Potsmouth was not included in either list. This despite MOD referring to Hilsea Lines  in response to a PQ in 1998

FOI request

Dear Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,

Could you please provide me with the information you hold about the radioactive waste buried at Hilsea Lines. I have attached an extract from Hansard that may be of help

Hansard 9 Feb 1998 : Column: 72

“Radioactive Waste

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence in what years Army personnel from 43 Command Workshop were ordered to dispose of low grade radioactive waste at Hilsea, Portsmouth; and what plans are available relating to the disposal. [27881]

Mr. Spellar: Army personnel from 43 Command Workshop disposed of low grade radioactive waste at Hilsea lines during 1978. Records dating from 1977 for this work are held in MOD files. The burial of the waste at Hilsea lines was approved by the Radiochemical Inspectorate of the then Department of the Environment. The Inspectorate then granted unrestricted access to the sites. Maps showing the locations at Hilsea lines of the buried waste were passed by the Ministry of Defence to the Property Services Agency of the Department of the Environment”

It is gratifying to find that the EA still holds information about the location of the buried Radium waste

Reply from the Environment Agency

RE: Request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) / Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) 

Thank you for your enquiry which was received by this office on 1 November, 2011. 
Requests for information that is recorded are generally governed by the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). The information you have requested is environmental and it is therefore exempted from the provisions of FOIA by FOIA s.39(1). We have therefore considered your request under the provisions of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR). 

I enclose plans of the location of the burial of radioactive waste in 1978. The report, we have on file, states that this would be Area B on the attached plan, “Hilsea Lines 1.pdf”. The centre of Area B is at National Grid Reference SU 66464 04208.

Download  maps and correspondence  

Maps from Google Earth showing the location of the radium buried at Hilsea Lines Portsmouth

Maps from the Environment Agency