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Decision on pollution at Norfolk airfield due in March

PUBLISHED: 19:55 13 February 2013 | UPDATED: 19:55 13 February 2013


The results of investigations into radioactive material found at a Norfolk airfield are due to be known by the end of March, at which point a decision will be made on whether or not to designate the site as contaminated land.

South Norfolk Council’s environmental health team has been investigating the presence of radioactive Radium-226 at Pulham airfield after seven artefacts found at the site had luminous paint containing the radioactive material.

Councillor Keith Kiddie, the council’s cabinet member for environment and regulation, said: “We are in the process of concluding our investigations of the site with other agencies.

“This is a comparatively small area of private and not public land, and our preliminary view from the work we have completed to date indicates that it will not be appropriate for us to designate it or to carry out any further investigation. We are intending to conclude our assessment by the end of March and will be informing interested parties of our decision.”

The council’s environmental protection manager Adrian Nicholas has previously reassured nearby residents by letter the materials were found in areas of rough grass away from public footpaths and land used to grow food crops.

The Radium-226 was used in dials and signs on board military aircraft with the Royal Navy Air Service based at the airfield at Upper Vaunces Farm, which used to be home to the so-called Pulham Pigs airships as well as 3,000 service personnel and 2,000 civilians.

The site, which opened in 1916, was being investigated because contaminants had been found at other former airfields in the UK, most notably Dalgety Bay in Scotland where radioactive objects were found at a landfill site for second world war aircraft.

As well as radioactive materials, the investigation was also looking at other possible contaminants, including caustic soda used in the production of hydrogen gas for the airships.

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