BACK in January 1989 the Evening Mail got a first look at the new £8.6m store at Drigg for low-level radioactive waste generated by British Nuclear Fuels – much of it from nearby Sellafield.

The site was screened by thousands of conifer trees and it took 70 contractors to gouge out an eighth huge hole – Vault Eight – to take an expected five-years’ worth of waste.

Contaminated paper, plastic and metal was put in drums ready to go in 20-tonne steel containers before burial, 20 miles north of Millom.

A report in the Mail on January 26 in 1989 noted: “More than 250,000 cubic metres of earth had to be torn from the ground by huge excavators to create a hole 800ft by 550ft and 16ft deep.

“The result is a roofless building resembling a huge unfilled swimming pool the size of eight soccer pitches.

“A single fork lift truck with tyres six feet high lifts the massive steel containers into place.”

The 250-acre Drigg site was opened in 1939 as a Royal Ordnance factory, making and storing high explosives.

In 1959 the nuclear industry took over and found Drigg’s geology suitable for burying waste in deep trenches hundreds of feet long.