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Sellafield survey thaws glacier past

EXTENSIVE SITE investigation of the Sellafield area in the Lake District, originally for a deep repository for radioactive waste has given new insight into glaciation of the area during the last ice age.

The new report The quaternary of the Sellafield area, published by Nirex, the government organisation responsible for environmental management of radioactive waste, has revealed the how the landscape of West Cumbria was changed by the retreat of glaciers across the area during the last half million


It details hidden valleys and an Arctic tundra that once stretched from Sellafield to the Isle of Man. Evidence of changes to the land surface in the geological past provide useful information on processes likely to occur in the future, says Nirex manager for site characterisation, Bob Chaplow.

The report presents the most up to date information available on those changes and also includes results from Nirex's research into long term climate change in the British Isles.

Nirex's investigations are now being wound down following the government's decision on 17 March last year to refuse permission for an underground laboratory at the site, which was to form part of the final repository for low and medium grade radioactive waste.

Despite this, Nirex plans to continue to publish the results of the investigation. Data for

his latest report was collected from a series of shallow boreholes up to 70m deep, from quarry deposits and also from seismic surveys.

The report is available from the librarian, UK Nirex, Curie Avenue, Harwell, Didcot, Oxon, OX11 0RH, Tel: 01235 825601 and will soon be available on the company's web site at

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