FEARS radioactive nuclear waste could be dumped in Winsford are being played down.
Concerns were sparked when the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) announced 'underground storage' was its preferred option for storing spent waste from the UK's decommissioned nuclear plants.
Winsford Rock Salt Mine is the only underground waste dump in the UK, leading to fears it would be the only suitable site for storing the nuclear waste.
More than 100,000 tonnes of toxic waste is already earmarked to be stored in the mine via Shaft Four at Jack Lane, Bostock, every year.
While the terms of the site's licence prevent nuclear waste being dumped there, members of protest group RAMP (Residents Against Mine Pollution) have long feared that contract could eventually be altered.
RAMP spokeswoman Laura Williams said: 'We've been concerned about this right from the start. Nuclear waste has always been at the back of our minds, we've raised the issue several times. Obviously we hope it never happens. It's bad enough at the minute with the toxic waste being stored there, but nuclear waste would be even worse.
'We've been assured nuclear waste will never be stored in the mine, but who knows what will happen in the future?'
NDA officials insist they would prefer to store the radioactive waste in a purpose-built facility. Spokesman Brian Hough told the Chronicle: 'At this stage our favoured option is to construct a new underground storage facility to store the waste. Ideally we want to use a new site, as opposed to an existing facility like the Winsford mine.'
Minosus, the company behind the scheme to transform the mine into a toxic waste dump, has denied the possibility of storing nuclear waste there.
Managing director Roger Shaw said: 'We have signed a clear, binding agreement that prevents radioactive waste being stored in Winsford. It's a powerful legal document and in any case storing nuclear waste here isn't part of our plans.'
The Government will have the final say next July, when the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), set up to look at storage options, announces its findings. BLOOMING GREAT: Kids at the Pinewood children's respite centre in Winsford thank Barclays staff Daniel Jeffries, Emma Appleton, Jim Kimber and Chris Thorpe. RS170805GARDEN