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RAF AND KERRIER DC PLAN TO CLEAN UP EX CHEMICAL SITE

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Members of the RAF project team responsible for the clean up of the former chemical defence site at RAF Portreath h...
Members of the RAF project team responsible for the clean up of the former chemical defence site at RAF Portreath have briefed Kerrier DC on plans for a scoping study which will lead to the remediation of the site.

The remediation study, to be undertaken by a team from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, will be conducted in consultation with regulatory bodies and local authorities. The scope of the study was announced by wing commander Peter Stokes, the RAF's project co-ordinator, who said:

'Our initial aim is to tackle the five dumpsites associated with Nancekuke, and we will be working closely with the council to achieve this, although our work will of course be regulated by the Environment Agency. We have initiated two separate studies that we hope will be complete in late spring 2002. The first will look to determine the safest and most efficient way to excavate the dumps coupled with exploring options for disposing of the different categories of waste that we may find. The second study will concentrate on environmental issues, examining the effect that the remediation might have on the local environment, for example flora, fauna, tourism and the road infrastructure.

'Local people should be aware that specialist personnel will be working on site over the coming months, conducting a variety of tests and investigations that will provide evidence for the studies. Our aim is to demonstrate openness. We aim for this to be an open process and our briefing today is a further example of this'.

Kerrier DC's Nancekuke single issue panel committee head, Pat Aston, said:

'The planning of the clean-up of RAF Portreath is progressing and Kerrier DC will be in a position to determine formally the contaminated areas in the near future. The council has agreed to the setting up of a working party which will include representatives of local councils and interest groups. We are doing this so that local people are kept informed of progress throughout the process.'

NOTES

1. CDE Nancekuke began operating as a small-scale chemical agent production and research facility in 1951. Between 1954 and 1956, a small plant manufactured about 20 tons of nerve agent. This plant was closed in 1956 when the government abandoned its offensive chemical capability. Nancekuke continued defensive research until 1976 when decommissioning began. All remaining stocks of chemical agents were destroyed or transferred to Porton Down between 1976 and 1980. Decontaminated equipment and chemical substances, associated with work on chemical agents were disposed of on site, and their locations marked. Nancekuke closed in 1980 and the RAF took over ownership as part of the UK's air surveillance and communications network.

2. The council and the Environment Agency were briefed on 23 October 1999 on the RAF's intent to undertake voluntary remediation of the site and the RAF project team hosted members of Kerrier DC for a site visit on 8 November 1999. At a meeting of Kerrier's cabinet on 21 November, the council agreed to support the formal determination of the Nancekuke dumps, allowing the Environment Agency to formally regulate the RAF's actions.

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