Culmore radioactive waste report concludes no risk

The former Derry City Council Landfill site at Culmore Point. DER5213JM041
The former Derry City Council Landfill site at Culmore Point. DER5213JM041

An urgent report on the ‘controlled burial’ of radioactive waste in Culmore in the early 1980s has concluded the practice involved no risk to people or the environment.

Concerns were raised last month when it was revealed radioactive waste was landfilled at Culmore Point and Duncrue Street in Belfast.

Environment Minister Mark H. Durkan asked his officials in the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) to investigate the issue.

He said: “The report has now been completed and concludes that disposals carried out by way of ‘controlled burial’ at the two landfill sites were in accordance with relevant authorisations and guidance available at the time. In NIEA’s view this practice presented no plausible risk to people or the environment.”

The report further notes that there is evidence a conservative approach was taken by regulators and by holders of authorisations. For example, materials were often decay stored for long periods and some materials were disposed of by controlled burial where the guidance suggests disposal along with ordinary refuse would have been acceptable at the time.

The Public Health Agency has been consulted and shares the NIEA’s view in respect of human health.

Cllr Sean Carr, chairman of Derry City Council’s Environmental Services Committee, welcomed the publication of the report and the clarification it provides on this issue.

“I would like to thank the Environment Minister for his prompt response in dealing with this important issue and providing reassurance to the public in relation to any potential concerns they may have,” he said.