Salisbury attack: Novichok poisoning response vehicles in Wiltshire buried in landfill site

Move will pose 'absolutely no risk to public', government says

Tom Embury-Dennis
Saturday 01 September 2018 13:50 BST
UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson on Novichok and 'an increasingly aggressive Russia'

Emergency service vehicles used to respond to the novichok poisonings in Wiltshire have been buried at a landfill site.

The secure burials would pose “absolutely no risk to the public”, a government spokesperson said.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) did not reveal the number of buried vehicles, nor the emergency services they were used by, but confirmed some had been sealed in a hazardous waste landfill site near Bishop’s Cleeve, a village of about 13,000 people, in Gloucestershire.

Last month, Wiltshire Police said it cost the force an estimated £347,000 to destroy a number of police cars potentially contaminated by novichok.

London has blamed Russia for the nerve agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury in March.

In July, Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after becoming an indirect casualty of the poisoning, with authorities believing she and boyfriend Charlie Rowley picked up a discarded vial containing the substance.

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A Defra spokesperson said: “The cleanup work in south Wiltshire has been under way for some time and any potentially contaminated items continue to be removed and stored securely before being disposed of safely.

“As part of this work, following review by specialist teams, some of the vehicles involved in the response to the incident in March have been moved to a hazardous waste landfill site.

“There is absolutely no risk to the public of using hazardous waste landfill sites.

“These locations are fully sealed and highly regulated to ensure waste is disposed of safely.”

Tony Mackinnon, a member of Bishop’s Cleeve Parish Council, told The Times: “We’ve done air quality and dust tests, and tests of lots of potential different pollutants, and they were well within safe limits.

“It’s something that will be of interest to the public but it shouldn’t be something that alarms them. I would have thought the risk to the public is vanishingly small.”

The novichok attacks caused an international diplomatic incident, with the home secretary, Sajid Javid, accusing the Russian state of using Britain as a “dumping ground for poison”.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has previously said that linking Russia to the poisoning would be “absurd”.

Additional reporting by PA

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