Council’s archive search in radioactive dump row

The former Derry City Council Landfill site at Culmore Point. DER5213JM041
The former Derry City Council Landfill site at Culmore Point. DER5213JM041

Derry City Council says it is carrying out a “detailed” search of its archives to see if it can uncover any more information about the secret dumping of radioactive waste at one of its sites on the outskirts of Derry more than thirty years ago.

There have been calls for an emergency meeting of the local authority after newly released government papers revealed that Council land at Culmore was one of five British government authorised radioactive waste disposal sites in Northern Ireland between 1977 and 1982. It’s understood such a meeting will take place on Friday, January 3.

Previously confidential government files reveal that “two consignments of hospital waste were buried” at the Culmore Point site.

A spokesperson for Derry City Council last night indicated that information released through Government files is being reviewed along with a detailed search of archived site records.

It’s understood this is to determine any further information on the nature and quantities of the “controlled disposal” referenced in the files. Council says it is also liaising with the relevant authorities including Environmental Health Department and the NI Environment Agency.

The spokesperson explained that Culmore Landfill Site was closed in March 2007 and is currently undergoing extensive capping and management work.

“This work is in compliance with the requirements of the EU Landfill Directive and with the approval of the NI Environment Agency,” said a spokesperson. “This remedial work also includes continuous monitoring and management of any surface water run-off, leachate, ground water and landfill gases.”

Local Sinn Fein councillor Tony Hassan believes an emergency meeting of the City Council’s Environmental Services Committee should be convened to discuss the issue.

“Residents are demanding to know the full facts of what went on thirty years ago and what are the health implications today. There needs to be full disclosure... It also vitally important that residents in Strathfoyle and those living along the River Foyle in our neighbouring county of Donegal, in areas such as Muff, Moville and Greencastle, get the full facts of what has gone on here.”

His council colleague, Angela Dobbins, of the SDLP, says answers are needed.

“Although this occurred over thirty years ago, someone in a senior position now needs to step forward with explanations and open answers that outline the scale and implications of this activity. If there is nothing to hide, then why was there all the secrecy?

“I am concerned about the planned rejuvenation of the Culmore site.”