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Nuclear-waste dumping site also poisonous

April 16, 2009 at 2:55 PM   |   Comments

BERLIN, April 16 (UPI) -- A leaking nuclear-waste storage site in Germany is also contaminated with several toxic substances.

The problematic site in the Asse mountain range in northern Germany has been abused for several years by companies eager to get rid of toxic substances, including mercury, lead alloy and arsenic, German news magazine Stern reports.

There is nearly 1,100 pounds of the notoriously poisonous metalloid arsenic in the site threatening to contaminate the groundwater.

Last September, German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters that Asse, which holds some 125,000 rusty barrels of nuclear waste, is "the most problematic nuclear facility in all of Europe."

Over the past few decades, some 3,170 gallons of salty base had flushed into the site each day, and barrels with waste were leaking. Asse, Gabriel told German daily Bild, has "as many holes as Swiss cheese." Berlin was forced to shut down the site and has since tried to come up with solutions how to save it.

Asse was meant to be a place for temporary storage and research but was instead used by companies for careless dumping of waste never intended to see the light of day again.

The cleanup of Asse is estimated to cost at least $2.5 billion.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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