Radioactive material found at derelict barn in Norfolk

Components from Leonardo's Helicopter Integrated Defensive Aids System, fitted to Chinook helicopter

Components from Leonardo's Helicopter Integrated Defensive Aids System, fitted to Chinook helicopters, is part of the military inventory in Norfolk. Image: Cpl Rupert Frere RLC - Credit: Cpl Rupert Frere RLC

Radioactive material has been found at a derelict barn where military equipment was stored in north Norfolk.

It comes after the Ministry of Defence denied claims that sensitive military equipment was left at the site.

The Times newspaper has reported that items stored at the former Used Equipment Surplus and Storage Ltd (UES&S) site were to be sold on the open market.

But auctioneer Peter Hazell, from Thetford-based George Hazell and Co, said on Wednesday that radioactive material had been found there.

He said: 'Radioactive material was discovered there. We uncovered it. It's not high grade and it's only a small amount. There's no risk to the public.'

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He said that a viewing of the equipment, which was due to be held on Thursday, January 31, ahead of the sale, might now be cancelled.

And the auction of the entire contents of the warehouse, due on February 6, may also be postponed.

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An MOD spokesperson said: 'Following several site inspections, we have not found or been shown any sensitive equipment at this site.

'All our contractors follow strict security regulations when storing military equipment, and we have no reason to believe this has been breached.'

The former UES&S premises stored equipment on behalf of Leonardo, an Italian defence company, and its clients, which include the British Army and Royal Navy.

Last year, UES&S went into liquidation and the Times has reported, as a result, large quantities of sensitive military equipment now sits in the north Norfolk barn.

The newspaper states that parts from helicopter defence systems and a radio jammer for improvised explosive devices are among items that were to be auctioned.

The MOD Police, DE&S Security Team, Defence Land Safety Regulator and Leonardo have all visited UES&S's Norfolk site. An MOD spokesman said they have also made several visits to Leonardo and have found material is being disposed of safely and securely.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb is expected to raise the issue in the House of Commons.

Mr Lamb told the Times: 'We need to know what conclusion they have reached as to whether Leonardo have breached regulations on the disposal of highly sensitive military components.'

Lord West of Spithead, a former head of the Royal Navy, tabled a question in the House of Lords to discuss concerns about the sale, particularly that hostile countries or terrorists could take the equipment apart to learn how it works.

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