Radioactive waste under ex-RAF base where Notts homes could go up
RADIOACTIVE waste is buried at a former RAF airfield in Notts, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.
Residents and local councillors told the Post they didn't know about the radium, painted on old aircraft dials and other equipment to make it glow in the dark.
Exposure to it can cause health problems including cancer if it is swallowed, but the MoD told the Post the risk to the public from the material under RAF Newton was negligible.
Officials said it was "buried and securely fenced within an area preventing inadvertent exposure".
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The 228-acre RAF Newton site has been suggested as a possible location for a major new housing development and 165 homes are already being built.
John Fearn, of Shelford Road, Newton, said: "I have heard rumours about there being radium on the site. I can see a fenced-off area on the airfield and I know it's land owned by the MoD. I think that is where the radium is.
"But I don't go and walk my dog there so it doesn't really concern me, but I can't speak for the rest of the village."
Parish clerk Mike Elliot said: "I didn't realise there was actually radium buried there."
Bingham town councillor John Stockwood said: "The people of Bingham who I have spoken to didn't know there was radium there."
The MoD revealed the information under the Freedom of Information Act in the wake of the discovery of dangerous levels of radium contamination at Dalgety Bay in Fife.
An MoD spokesman said: "We recognise the potential stress and anxiety that the very mention of contamination can cause. Whilst there is a health risk if a radioactive object is swallowed, breathed in or is in prolonged contact with the skin, in general the chance of being affected by coming into contact with a radioactively contaminated object is small.
"In the case of the retained area at the former RAF Newton, the material in question is radium, which was commonly used commercially, as well as by the military, in luminous paint on items such as dials, watches and clock faces.
"The residue of such items is both buried and securely fenced within an area preventing inadvertent exposure.
"For all the 15 sites listed, the risk to site users and the public is negligible."
The main radium site is some distance from the housing development under construction by David Wilson Homes and Bellaway Homes.
However, the developers have already acted to remove another batch of radium from the site where the homes are being built.
John Reddington, David Wilson Homes East Midlands' managing director, said: " Along with our partners Bellway Homes, we are absolutely certain that there is no reason for the public to be concerned.
"We are aware that there is a very small amount of contamination in an area well away from that which is being developed. No contamination has been detected near to any of the buildings."