Firm sues over nuclear weapons `leak'

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Blue Circle, the industrial group, yesterday launched a multi- million pound damages claim against the Atomic Weapons Establishment for allegedly contaminating a site at Aldermaston - next to the plant where Trident warheads are made - with nuclear materials.

"High levels" of plutonium and uranium were found on the estate after ponds on the AWE land burst their banks during a rainstorm in 1989 and flooded marshes and a lake on the Blue Circle land. A thousand cubic metres of soil contaminated with plutonium 1,000 times above normal background levels was excavated from the estate but the contamination continues and has halted any sale of the property and driven away customers, the High Court was told yesterday.