Whitehall to act over lost radioactive dumps

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The Government promised yesterday to take action to deal with hundreds of uncharted radioactive dumps left over from the Cold War.

Radioactive material was often buried in landfill sites during the Fifties and Sixties before proper regulations came into force. Now a nuclear engineer has estimated that there are more than 500 such dumps all over the country with radioactive material leaking into the surrounding earth.

Michael Meacher, minister for environmental protection, told BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend that the Government was going to deal with the problem "as quickly as we can". He said: "It is a significant and serious form of contamination which, in our view, should have been dealt with much earlier". John Large, an independent nuclear engineer, has built up a database of military and civilian installations. Speaking on the same programme, Mr Large said: "You have a series of nuclear facilities in this country, waste tips, contaminated buildings that were never logged on - no caretakers, no regulators."