The waste was found during clean up works to pave the way for the planned Dounreay low level waste facility on the northern tip of Scotland.

It’s the first and, so far, only nuclear waste to be dug up at the site, which is currently undergoing a remediation by Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL).

The site was formerly a centre of fast reactor research and development, which was used for various nuclear testing between the mid 1950s to the mid 1990s.

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency’s (SEPA) radioactive substances unit manager, Byron Tilly, said: “We received notification from DSRL, as per normal practice, of the detection and recovery of a fuel fragment and two shovels worth of radioactive waste.

“These were detected while DSRL was monitoring the footprint of the proposed new low level waste facility.

“This fuel fragment would be classified as minor and does not present a significant hazard to the public.

“However, its discovery in this location is unexpected and SEPA has requested that DSRL conduct a thorough investigation into the possible source of the material, and how it came to be in this location.”

Further investigations, into how the material ended up there, and to see if more radioactive waste could have been at the site are being carried out.

Luke Walsh

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