From atomic bomb site to nature reserve

A site once used for tests leading to the creation of the world's first atomic bomb has been made into a nature reserve in one of the most unusual regeneration projects in recent years.

The Rhydymwyn Valley site in North Wales went from a chemical weapon production and storage plant in the late 1930 to a nuclear research facility in the 1940s, used by scientists investigating the production of enriched uranium for the US atomic bomb. The same scientists went on to work on the Manhattan Project – the US government’s drive to build an atomic bomb ahead of Germany and Japan.

Taken over by Defra in 1994 after a long period of lying derelict or being used for storage, the site was tested for remaining contamination, including the drilling of boreholes to monitor water quality.

The latest stage in the history of the Rhydymwyn site has been the establishment of a nature reserve, formally handed over to the North Wales Wildlife Trust at a ceremony on Tuesday, with visitors invited to experience its “rich variety of wildlife, including grass snakes, owls and the common lizard.”

Peter Green, head of Defra’s estates division, said: “North East Wales Wildlife have made a contribution to the transformation of this site from a derelict munitions factory to a haven for wildlife, so it seems entirely appropriate that their invaluable input should be formally recognised in a legal agreement.”

Pippa Perry of North East Wales Wildlife Trust, said: “We are delighted to be formally given responsibility for the wildlife at the site, and for working with the public and the local community to raise awareness of the hugely diverse wildlife at the site.”

For more on the Rhydymwyn site see here.

Goska Romanowicz

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