23rd October saw an announcement by the Ministry of Defence that the site of

a former chemical weapons establishment located on the North Cornish Coast,

will receive a clean-up. Surfers Against Sewage have welcomed the news but still

have concerns about how exactly the clean up will happen and how safe the operation

will be.

The site, which closed down in 1980 has been the subject of concern for local

residents and water users as tonnes of toxic chemicals are rumoured to be buried

beneath the site. Records of what happened to plant machinery and left over

chemicals when the site was decommissioned are scarce, but the Ministry of Defence

recently confirmed that remnants from the plant are buried in the mineshafts

beneath the old site.

Following an assessment of the site the MoD have also disclosed that upon closure

of Nancekuke a mixture of chemicals used to make the nerve gas were discharged

to sea - no sea monitoring took place following this discharge.

SAS were recently sent photos of ceramic discharge pipes allegedly located in

cliffs beneath the site, these pipes are still open and the surfers are demanding

confirmation that there is nothing hazardous being released to sea through them.

A spokesperson for SAS said today;

" Ever since the site closed down, rumours about what is buried beneath

the old factory have been rife. Recently the Ministry of Defence confirmed some

of the rumours as fact. Not suprisingly we are concerned which of the other

plentiful rumours are fact not fiction. We know that the nerve gas produced

at the site was designed to kill with one drop. We also know that the chemicals

used to make the nerve gas will hang around in the environment for years. We

have confirmation that some chemicals were discharged to sea, we have confirmation

that plant machinery was buried beneath the site but we have very little idea

of what went where and in what amounts".

" Whilst we are obviously delighted that the site will be cleaned up

we are hesitant in our celebration. It seems that despite extensive assessment

of the site there are still many questions left unanswered. Just what could

be uncovered when the clean up operation starts? We know that chemical surveys

of the ground have taken place at the site but we are not just dealing with

a regular landfill here. We are talking about huge mine shafts, some the size

of cathedrals, where god knows what could be lurking. We fail to see how assessment

of the soil reveals the truth of what lies beneath".

" It is too dangerous to disturb the site when we are not entirely

sure about what we are going to discover. On the other hand considering what

is rumoured to be buried beneath Nancekuke we can't afford to hold back on the

clean up. We would suggest geophysical surveying starts immediately".

SAS will be sending the photographs of the ceramic pipes to the Ministry of

Defence and will also be asking how they plan to survey the extensive mine shafts

beneath the site.

For further details contact James Hendy or Vicky Garner on (01872) 553001