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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

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Green Goddess found buried at Sellafield

A GREEN Goddess fire engine that may have played a role in battle to put out the 1957 Windscale fire has been found buried deep in a trench on the Sellafield site.

The fire engine is among contaminated rubbish and debris that was hurriedly disposed off by burial in the 1950s, when radiation disposal standards were lax.

News of the strange burial came as Nexia Solutions had a media visit last week on the eve of anticipated approval for a key Nexia role in the National Nuclear Laboratory.

Managing director Dr Peter Bleasdale said his staff had used the sort of scanning technology popularised by the Time Team television show to spot the fire engine.

He said: “The B291 trenches were covered over in the 1950s and nobody was clear what was there. There had been anecdotes that a fire engine was in there and yes, we found the Green Goddess and know its location.”

He went on: “A triangular area of land within the Sellafield site covering around 10,000 square metres is known as B291 waste trenches. The site was used in the early 1950s as a disposal area for low-level waste and possibly also contains small volumes of intermediate level waste.

“The area contains six trenches but the precise location and waste volumes were unknown. The challenge was to locate the boundaries of the trenches.”

Traditionally, site investigations of this nature have been undertaken using high-cost drilling and sampling programmes. The method adopted by Nexia Solutions used off-the-shelf ground- penetrating radar techniques, which not only identified the trench boundaries but also provided valuable information on the shape, volume and location of waste placed in the trench.

The work successfully identified all six trenches. A number were found to be in different places than original plans had indicated. Now Nexia Solutions intends to do further work to establish the radiological condition of the trenches.

One final point from Dr Bleasdale: “The original cost was £6million. The Nexia Solution cost £200,000.”

n Global hopes for national nuclear lab – page 5

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